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Film round-up: October 1

Reviews of Oliver Sacks: His Own Life, Getting Away With Murder(s), The Guilty, Redemption of a Rogue and Next Door

Oliver Sacks: His Own Life (15)
Directed by Ric Burns
⭑⭑⭑⭑

 

 

IMMORTALISED by Robin Williams in the 1990 film Awakenings, this documentary paints a brutally honest yet poignant portrait of pioneering British neurologist and author Oliver Sacks as he confronted his mortality.

In 2015, documentarian Ric Burns received unprecedented access to the man himself, as well as those closest to him, just weeks after he was diagnosed with terminal cancer.

In the moving footage he speaks for the first time about his sexuality and his difficult childhood.

He revealed how he was haunted all his life by his Jewish mother’s (one of the first female surgeons in England) reaction on learning he was gay, telling him: “You are an abomination. I wish you had never been born.”

Through exclusive interviews with Sacks’s friends, colleagues and peers (including Jonathan Miller), as well as archive footage, the film is an eye-opening celebration of the life and work of this extraordinary scientist and man.

MARIA DUARTE

Available on digital platforms October 4

Getting Away With Murder(s) (15)
Directed by David Wilkinson
⭑⭑⭑⭑

 

 

WHY were 99 per cent of the people who murdered Jews during the Holocaust never brought to justice?

Documentary-maker David Wilkinson aims to answer this unbelievable question during his almost three-hour-long fact-finding mission, which sees him travel to Auschwitz and numerous countries interviewing survivors, the relatives of victims, investigators, leading experts and the last surviving prosecutor at the Nuremberg trials, Benjamin Ferencz.

Full of harrowing photographs of the corpses of men, women and children, as well as descriptions of the atrocities committed, this is a very distressing watch.

However, Wilkinson’s detailed and forensic examination of how Nazi war criminals got away with murder as he names and shames them is extraordinary and beggars belief. There are a lot of facts and figures to digest, but it is worth persevering until the conclusion.

MD

In cinemas

The Guilty (15)
Directed by Antoine Fuqua
⭑⭑⭑⭑

 

 

THE latest hit foreign-language thriller to get the English-speaking do-over, Netflix’s The Guilty takes Gustav Moeller’s acclaimed 2018 German thriller and transplants the action to downtown Los Angeles — a cut-like-you’ve-never-seen-him Jake Gyllenhaal standing in for Danish counterpart Jakob Cedergren.

It’s a point-for-point remake — Gyllenhaal’s emergency service operator attempting to save a kidnapped woman on the other end of the line — with only the final minute of the movie really seeing any deviation from the source material.

And it works: Fuqua’s robust and typically intense direction is perfectly suited to such an edge-of-your-seat nail-biting drama, anchored by a brilliant turn from the always reliable Gyllenhaal.

The ending though, is problematic, offering up an alteration that feels made for the sake of appearing busy at best, but at worst, staggeringly tone-deaf in light of recent real-world events.

VAN CONNOR

In cinemas and on Netflix

Redemption of a Rogue (15)
Directed by Philip Doherty
⭑⭑

 

 

ONE of those films that offers up a lot in the way of ideas but little in the way of results, Redemption of a Rogue marks an intriguing feature debut for writer-director Philip Doherty — but it’s more a proof of concept than a win.

An absurdist Irish dramedy, centering around suicidal slacker Jimmy (Aaron Monaghan), it follows our unlikely hero as he and brother attempt to fulfil the final wish of their recently departed father: to bury him in dry weather.

Torrential rain quickly becomes the meteorological status quo, bringing with it a series of unfortunate events and an angry mob, all of whom really want that body chucked in the sodden ground.

Despite being solidly quirky and distinct in tone, the humour and sentimentality of Rogue miss the mark far more often than otherwise, with Monaghan’s likeable turn sadly unable to carry it.

VC

In cinemas and available on Curzon Home Cinema

Next Door
Directed by Daniel Bruehl
⭑⭑⭑⭑⭑

 

 

RISING thespian Daniel Bruehl takes quite the swing for his directorial debut with the completely bonkers but utterly enthralling two-hander Nebenan, released in the UK as Next Door.

Bruehl plays… Bruehl (!) as he waits around his local bar in Berlin for a cab to take him to a pivotal screen test. As usual though, it’s less about the destination than the journey — except Bruehl’s is interrupted by the forceful presence of neighbour Bruno (Peter Kurth), who has more than a couple of things to get off of his chest.

A raw and startlingly evocative debut for Bruehl the director, it is nonetheless Bruehl the actor who’ll knock you to the floor on this one.

A performance so precisely honed that it quickly becomes a literal in-joke, it’s an experience like no other to watch the Spanish-German performer unravel as he does — his rage and vulnerability taking turns to burst from the seams.

Kurth gives as good as he gets though, with his brilliantly ominous take on proceedings holding the suspense of the entire exchange.

It’s a brilliant game of cat-and-mouse, writ large in the simple confines of a Berlin watering hole. Not to be missed.

VC

In cinemas and available on Curzon Home Cinema

 

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