5 to See: This Weekend

This weekend ASFF selects five new films from Britain, Belgium and America that are set to be released in cinemas on Friday. Ranging from comedy to true-life tales to heart-wrenching dramas, the diverse themes include familial tragedy, the search for meaning in modern-day society and finding love where you least expect it.

Ben Is Back (STX)

Peter Hedges, the screenwriter of About a Boy and What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, directs his own son, rising star Lucas Hedges, in this story of Ben, a drug-addict who returns to his family on Christmas Eve after leaving rehab early. Following quickly on the heels of Beautiful Boy, which told the true story of Nic Sheff’s desperate attempts to get clean of crystal meth, the film co-stars Julia Roberts as Ben’s endlessly patient mother Holly.

Benjamin (Verve Pictures)

Comedian and regular TV pundit Simon Amstell has already gone behind the camera for his hour-long iTunes mock-doc Carnage, set in 2067 when Britain is a vegan society. So this second film – starring Merlin’s Colin Morgan as a young and vulnerable filmmaker about to release his sophomore feature – will inevitably raise the question of just how autobiographical it is. Plebs’ Joel Fry and Anna Chancellor join in the fun.

Fisherman’s Friends (Entertainment)

Loosely based on the real-life story of the titular Cornish folk group, who went from local celebrities to best-selling chart-toppers, Chris Foggin’s likeable film has all the hallmarks of a Brassed Off or The Full Monty. Daniel Mays stars as a London music manager decides to promote this band of loveable sea-shanty singing rogues and ends up falling for the Cornish lifestyle and Tuppence Middleton’s single mother. James Purefoy, Dave Johns and David Hayman co-star.

Girl (Curzon Artificial Eye)

Since its debut in Cannes last year, where it won the Camera d’Or for best first feature, Belgian writer-director Lukas Dhont’s film has since gone on to be nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the Golden Globes. Victor Polster is very striking in the lead as 15 year-old ballet student, who is desperate to go through sex reassignment surgery. Powerful but very tough to watch, this is one of the strongest films out this month.

Under the Silver Lake (MUBI)

David Robert Mitchell follows up the terrific horror It Follows with this blazing Los Angeles-set mystery. Andrew Garfield is superb as Sam, a half-baked unemployed slacker who goes on a bizarre journey after his new neighbour (Riley Keough) disappears. A film full of signs and wonders, it’s a trawl through the L.A. underbelly – a Mulholland Drive for Millennials, you might say – that pops the pretentiousness of the city’s ice-cool reserve.

All films released on 15 March

James Mottram