British retirees travel to India to take up residence in what they believe is a newly restored hotel. Less luxurious than its advertisements, the Marigold Hotel nevertheless slowly begins to charm in unexpected ways.
On the face of it, this film doesn’t seem worth seeing. What does make it worth seeing though is the performances of its cast of veterans skilfully doing their experienced stuff. It’s a bit of a master class in acting. The most interesting and unusual character is Graham, who is there because he is haunted by the memory of his youthful love affair with a man in India, but each of them have their moment in the Indian sun. There are even a few light touches of late life romance to give us all hope for our twilight years. And ultimately as India works its magic on the characters, it also works its magic on us. An unlikely tale but entertaining for all that.
* * 1/2
A car accident puts Paige in a coma, and when she wakes up with severe memory loss, her husband Leo works to win her heart again.
Set in Chicago, director Michael Sucsy has show an appreciation of the city in various seasons and the city itself forms a good background to the story. Neill plays the father as a man who cares deeply for his daughter but is keener on getting her back into the family and confirming to his idea of what her life should be like rather than allowing her to re-discover her old life, where she was truly content.
The film will work or not work for you depending on whether you can believe in the couple as a romantic pair. While McAdams is charming in the scenes of Paige’s early days with her future husband. Tatum finds it harder to show his romantic nature and the fact that he is best known for action roles makes it difficult to accept him in a romantic guise.
* * 1/2
A look at how the intense relationship between Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud gives birth to psychoanalysis. The film is an interesting mixture of personal passion and cerebral argument and well played by its three principal actors, although the characters do occasionally come across as slightly ludicrous in their self obsession and self analysis – the forerunners of the neurotic egotists on the couch in so many Woody Allen movies. The ideas are however really interesting and may well lead you to investigate further Jung’s observation, based on his own flashes of prophecy – there’s a chilling one right at the end of the film which foretells World War I – that there are no coincidences. Check out the concepts of “archetype”, “the collective unconscious” and “synchronicity”.
* * *
Soon after her divorce, a fiction writer returns to her home in small-town Minnesota, looking to rekindle a romance with her ex-boyfriend, who is now happily married and has a newborn daughter.
Your enjoyment of Young Adult depends largely on your reaction to Theron’s performance. It is unapologetic and at times horrible. Yes, she does amusing things that we’ve all contemplated doing, like spitting in dry ink cartridges (only me?), and reacting to the adoration piled on a newborn baby by exclaiming, “Have you seen it? Up close?” But she is also an unjustifiably selfish character, who is offered no redeeming characteristics or narrative arc. Your willingness to stick with her is based on misguided pity or a desire for redemption that probably won’t come. She is a troubled soul and Reitman and Cody are providing a window into her most vulnerable moments, and all kudos to them for not pandering to typical movie conventions. The problem still remains that it is very hard to like her.
Patton Oswalt does best in the supporting cast, possibly down to the fact that he is clearly the voice of the audience’s projections. He is happy to point out Mavis’s failings and criticise her vile behaviour. But his sardonic wit gets dispensed with too soon and his own narrative journey is never wrapped up. Their relationship is the only believable one in the movie, so it’s a shame that’s it’s resolved in the ridiculous, rather abrupt way that it is.
It is hard to know who this is aimed at. Those expecting the “alcoholic Clueless” that the poster/trailer suggests will be disappointed. This is dark drama peppered with flecks of wicked comedy and it leaves you with an odd lack of fulfilment, much like its central characters’ lives.