ASFF selects five new films released on demand this week. Hailing from Britain and America, these movies span diverse genres, from family fare to wartime espionage to ghost story. Inside each, the filmmakers all engage with some potent themes, from sexual repression to grief and guilt to the trials of faith.
Francis Lee’s follow-up to his searing debut God’s Own Country is a more muted affair, telling the story of real-life fossil hunter Mary Anning (Kate Winslet). Little was known about the Lyme Regis-based Anning, so Lee has imagined her engaged in an affair with the married Charlotte Murchison (Saoirse Ronan). A respectful and tasteful account, the pace is slow but the detail – geographical, emotional – is exquisite, and Lee excavates two fine performances from his leads.
Tom & Jerry: The Movie (Warner Bros.)
The classic cat and mouse pairing from the Hanna-Barbera cartoons of old get a modern-day spruce up in this live action/animation hybrid, Roger Rabbit style. Chloë Grace Moretz plays Kayla, a new employee at a New York hotel who hires Tom to rid the building of unwanted rodent Jerry. Director Tim Story (The Fantastic Four) captures the knockabout spirit of the original five-minute cartoons – plenty of cat-and-mouse damage and destruction – even if the contemporary hip-hop soundtrack grates.
Eddie Izzard co-writes and stars in this pre-WWII espionage thriller, inspired by the real-life elite all-girls finishing school, Augusta-Victoria College, in Britain’s Bexhill-on-Sea, which was attended by daughters and goddaughters of Nazi party members. Izzard plays a British intelligence officer who goes undercover at the institution – run by Dame Judi Dench’s governess – as war brews and intrigue grows. Jim Broadbent and James D’Arcy co-star.
The Banishing (Vertigo Releasing)
British genre director Christopher Smith (Severance, Triangle) returns with The Banishing, a fairly straight-arrow ghost tale. Jessica Brown Findlay, of Downton Abbey fame, plays the wife of a clergyman who discovers the manor where they’re living is gripped by evil. Inspired by Borley Rectory, said to be the most haunted house in England, the film benefits greatly from Sean Harris, as the local village’s Occultist – marking his first movie with Smith since 2004’s London Underground horror Creep.
Made In Italy (Amazon Prime Video)
Actor James D’Arcy makes his directorial debut with this Tuscan-set story of an artist father and his son, who has never really got over the loss of his mother when he was younger. Playing the duo are Liam Neeson and his real son Micheál Richardson, who dealt with a similar tragedy when Natasha Richardson – Liam’s wife and Micheál’s mother – died in a skiing accident. While this inevitably lingers in the background, D’Arcy explores life and loss in a touching and tender way.
All films released by 26 March.