The Green Knight: Film Review

Courtesy of A24

After almost getting The Green Knight in August and having it removed from the release schedule at the last minute, UK audiences are finally able to watch David Lowery‘s latest movie on Amazon Prime Video.

The epic fantasy adventure, inspired by Arthurian legend, stars Dev Patel as Sir Gawain, King Arthur’s reckless nephew, who goes on a quest to confront the feared Green Knight (Ralph Ineson), a formidable green-skinned foe, and his journey includes encounters with giants, thieves, lords, ladies, and a peculiar fox.

The storytelling is very strong at the beginning and end but wavers in the middle as it depicts Gawain’s perilous journey, even though this is mitigated by the stunning cinematography of the rugged landscapes, filmed in Ireland. There are so many gorgeous visuals, particularly one tracking shot of Gawain setting off on his horse, that I almost forgot how slow and meandering the middle portion is. Although Lowery takes his sweet time throughout the journey, but it’s never dull because of the characters Gawain encounters along the way, such as Barry Keoghan as a scheming scoundrel and Joel Edgerton and Alicia Vikander as a Lord and Lady who invite him to stay. However, I thought there were too many run-ins along the way and the journey could have been a bit shorter and pacier.

Hiring Patel for a role that is traditionally portrayed by a white man was an inspired piece of casting by Lowery. He was the perfect choice for Gawain – somebody who wants to do the honourable thing and came away a hero when deep down he’s vulnerable and struggling to find that courage. I also thought Ineson brought a tremendous fearsome energy to the Green Knight, despite being covered in prosthetics, and Keoghan had that cheeky mischievous attitude any swindling scavenger should have.

My biggest problem was with Vikander. I couldn’t figure out why she was given two roles, especially as the first one didn’t suit her at all. She is too poised and prim to be convincing as Essel, a peasant woman and Gaiwan’s lover, and her attempt at a Northern accent was pretty bad. I think she should have just been The Lady, she fits that seductive role much better.

This medieval fantasy is an intriguing adventure with a terrific star turn from Patel.

In selected cinemas and Amazon Prime Video from Friday 24th September

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Gunpowder Milkshake: Film Review

Gunpowder Milkshake

Courtesy of StudioCanal/Sky Cinema

I’ve quite enjoyed watching Karen Gillan‘s evolution from Doctor Who’s companion Amy Pond to Hollywood action star and I think playing a hitwoman in Gunpowder Milkshake is a logical next step!

In this neon-soaked action thriller, she plays Sam, whose assassin mother Scarlet (Lena Headey) disappeared after a botched mission when she was only 12. Fifteen years later, she’s now working as a hitwoman for The Firm, which her mum also worked for, and is routinely sent to “clean up” their mess. During one high-risk job, Sam must choose between being loyal to The Firm or saving an eight-year-old girl named Emily (Chloe Coleman).

Gunpowder Milkshake is nothing we haven’t seen before – it’s a flimsy, hollow, shoot-’em-up that’s more style over substance (essentially like a female John Wick) but despite these flaws, it’s still an entertaining watch thanks to the star-studded ensemble co-writer/director Navot Papushado has put together as they seem to be having an absolute blast.

If you’re here for the action then you will love it because the film is basically just a bunch of action sequences strung together with minimal character development. These action scenes are high-octane, violent, super stylish and feature some very cool stunt choreography. The gunfights got a bit boring after a while so I was grateful when the guns were sometimes switched for more interesting weapons. My favourite action sequence was when Sam’s arms were deadened so she had to get inventive.

As fun as these scenes are, they would have been so much better if we’d known more about these characters and The Firm. I wanted to spend more time getting to know Sam and “the Librarians”, a trio of Scarlet’s old accomplices featuring Anna May (Angela Bassett), Florence (Michelle Yeoh) and Madeleine (Carla Gugino). Considering she’s the lead, we never know why Sam followed in her mum’s footsteps or anything about her as a person outside of the hitwoman business.

Gillan has proven how capable she is with stunt choreography in the Guardians of the Galaxy, Avengers and Jumanji films so it was no surprise to see her ace these complex setpieces. She brings a quirky energy to the character and has a fun relationship with Coleman’s Emily, who naively believes she’s going to become Sam’s apprentice. I loved that the librarians were comprised of women in their 50s and 60s – you hardly ever see that whereas older actors are action stars all the time. All of the women were so badass, and my favourite was Yeoh as she gets some great fight moments. It’s also worth pointing out that Paul Giamatti is in this as Nathan, the head of HR for The Firm, and is suitably devious.

Gunpowder Milkshake has awesome visuals and I loved seeing these women kick ass, but I wanted it to have a bit more meat on its bones.

In cinemas and on Sky Cinema from Friday 17th September

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Everybody’s Talking About Jamie: Film Review

Everybody's Talking About Jamie

Courtesy of Amazon

I really enjoyed Everybody’s Talking About Jamie when I saw the musical production on London’s West End so I was excited when a movie adaptation was announced – but this film fails to capture the magic of the stage show.

The film tells the story of Jamie New (Max Harwood), a gay 16-year-old who doesn’t fit in at his Sheffield school. He has always dreamed of being a drag queen and begins his pursuit of his drag career in earnest when his mum Margaret (Sarah Lancashire) gifts him glittery red stiletto heels for his birthday. With the help of local drag performer Hugo Battersby/Loco Chanelle (Richard E. Grant), Jamie discovers his look and his alter ego. As expected, he is faced with prejudice at school, but Jamie leans into his new persona and decides to wear a dress to the school’s prom.

My main issue with the stage show was that most of the songs were pretty forgettable – with the exception of the title tune – and that issue obviously still stands in the movie. With the stage production, there were plenty of bells and whistles, cool choreography and amazing singing to give the musical numbers some pizzazz and I didn’t feel like this was achieved here. With the exception of Work of Art (which had cool staging), the title song (nice choreography) and the ones based at the prom with most of the cast, the musical numbers fell flat and just didn’t have that spark. It feels like there’s less dancing in the film than the show, and besides Harwood, nobody has an incredible singing voice. They’re not terrible – they’re fine, passable – but it just means the numbers don’t hit like they should.

While I enjoyed the show, I can openly admit that it doesn’t have much substance to it – it’s just designed to be fun – so naturally, the film, which is very loyal to the show narratively-speaking, is the same, yet feels even more lightweight. I guess when you strip away the crowd-pleasing live performance aspect of it, you realise its flaws more. There are a few of the classic stock characters – such as Ralph Ineson as his estranged dad Wayne New, who is embarrassed by his son and wishes he’d had a proper lad and Samuel Bottomley as Dean Paxton, the school’s bully – and the message of proudly being your authentic self and accepting those who are different are not remotely subtle, but they are worthy pointers so who cares.

I couldn’t help but compare Harwood to John McCrea, who originated the role of Jamie on the stage. I really wish McCrea had done the film. Harwood did a great job – he can sing and dance (in towering heels) and I loved his look as Mimi Me (I wish we saw him in drag more!) but I loved McCrea. Elsewhere, Grant was perfectly cast as the world-weary Hugo/fabulous Loco Chanelle, while I also enjoyed Lauren Patel as Jamie’s best friend Pritti Pasha and Shobna Gulati as his mum’s best friend Ray (reprising her stage role).

I wish it wasn’t so, but Everybody’s Talking About Jamie never really rises above average and conventional. I enjoyed it and it’s an easy watch, but it never really excited me in the way musicals usually do and I’ve forgotten about most of it already.

On Amazon Prime Video from Friday 17th September

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Respect: Film Review

Respect

Courtesy of Universal

Aretha Franklin handpicked Jennifer Hudson to portray her in a biopic and now Respect is here it’s clear to see why.

This biopic, directed by Liesl Tommy, depicts 20 years of the Queen of Soul’s life, beginning with her performing in church as a child with her dad C.L. (Forest Whitaker) to signing with Columbia – where she has very little success – before she reaches her peak at Atlantic Records with hits such as Respect, Think, and (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman.

Franklin was a larger-than-life lady and a soul icon so it’s a shame she has been given such a generic biopic treatment. The film follows the same path as most biopics and hits the familiar beats you would expect. I didn’t know much about the singer outside of her songs so I still found it fascinating to learn more about her but I was never fully hooked into the conventional story. I also felt that the film was a bit too respectful of its subject – her life involved dark issues such as sexual assault, domestic abuse and alcoholism and these are depicted in a surface level way. The movie should have dug a little deeper so we could get to know Franklin as a person better, not just the highs and lows of her life. The domestic abuse situation gets a closer look as the film focuses heavily on her first marriage to Ted White (Marlon Wayans), who became her manager, but you don’t get a great sense of her thought process at the time.

Respect is almost two and a half hours long and it should have been 15-20 minutes shorter, particularly when it ends in 1972, when she was at the height of her career. And what a career it was – this film actually made me go “oh yeah, didn’t realise that was her hit!” a few times. The performances are the standout moments and there are plenty of them, from the early days in church, to the recording studio, to big shows like Madison Square Garden once she’s a big star. They cover the majority of her hits and it was entertaining watching them come to life. They are glorious and Hudson was clearly in her element while filming those; her voice is just insane and she easily nails Franklin’s range.

Her acting is impressive too. Although I thought she was drafted into playing Franklin at too early an age (a 39-year-old playing a teenager doesn’t work), she did well playing a clueless teenager who just does what her dad says before eventually finding her voice and standing up for what she wants. As an adult, she has sass, demanding diva moments and also vulnerable times when she gets lonely and turns to drink.

Elsewhere in the cast, I enjoyed Wayans as White, a very different character to his usual type. He adopted a deeper and smoother voice and came across so charming, when underneath he is a bitter and jealous man who resorts to violence. Whitaker was also great as the controlling C.L., who treats his daughter like a performing puppet, as is Marc Maron as Atlantic Records’ Jerry Wexler, who puts her on the path to success.

Respect follows the biopic rulebook to the letter but it’s still worth a watch for Hudson’s sensational performance.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

In cinemas Friday 10th September

Annette: Film Review

Annette

Courtesy of MUBI

Brace yourselves folks, you haven’t seen anything like Annette, for better or worse.

Leos Carax‘s English-language debut, a musical with Ron and Russell Mael of Sparks, stars Adam Driver as stand-up comedian Henry McHenry, who embarks on a whirlwind romance with renowned opera singer Ann Defrasnoux (Marion Cotillard). They get married and have a daughter named Annette, portrayed by a wooden marionette puppet, who has her mother’s gift. Henry becomes jealous of their talent and success as his career takes a downturn, with devastating consequences.

Annette is not your conventional movie musical, oh no. It is experimental, wild, weird and absolutely mad. Carax makes some bold and brave filmmaking choices that won’t be for everyone. It certainly wasn’t my cup of tea. I admired and respected it more than actually enjoying it. The film is way too long and I just struggled to get into it given how bonkers it was but I did ultimately come to like the story following Henry’s career downfall. I never really got past the whole “it’s a puppet” element but I thought the craftmanship of Annette was really impressive and she moved in a creepy life-like way.

The meta introductory song, So May We Start, was very good and super catchy so I had high hopes for the tunes and these were disappointing. They failed to make an impact because the majority of them sounded the same and were so meh and forgettable and I found Driver’s singing voice rather grating after a while. I think I would have liked the film more if it wasn’t a musical, which is something I never thought a musicals lover like me would ever say.

This film is Driver’s show and he gives a stunning performance as Henry. He really throws himself into the batshit craziness of it all and has a commanding, captivating presence. Henry ruins his success and comes to resent his family and descends into madness, with his onstage meltdown being particularly uncomfortable to watch.

Cotillard’s character isn’t well fleshed out, she is almost like Henry’s glossy vision of Ann rather than the actual person but the French actress was perfectly cast in the role and convinced as an opera singer. Out of all the cast members, I really hope Simon Helberg – best known for playing Howard Wolowitz in The Big Bang Theory – receives some awards attention for his supporting role in this film. He plays a very different character and did a lot with the handful of scenes he was in. There is one scene in which he talks to the camera while conducting an orchestra and the level of emotion he commanded while convincingly conducting at the same time was just astounding. That is my favourite scene in the film and it is solid proof that Helberg is capable of so much more than he has been able to showcase thus far in his career.

Carax make some big swings with Annette and the result is a over-long oddball piece that is all over the place. Many people dig it, many people (myself included) don’t.

In cinemas from Friday 3rd September

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Cinderella: Film Review

Cinderella

Courtesy of Amazon

I’m not even slightly exaggerating when I say that the new movie musical Cinderella has been savaged by critics. I don’t intend to go in on the film quite that hard because I didn’t hate it. Sure, it’s not great, but I enjoyed some aspects.

We all know the classic Cinderella fairy tale, about a orphan who lives with her evil stepmother and stepsisters and transforms into a beauty thanks to the fairy godmother so she can go to the ball, where she meets Prince Charming, leaves a glass slipper, you know the drill. This Cinderella, starring Camila Cabello in her acting debut, follows the broad strokes of the fairy tale but she is driven by her ambition to launch a fashion design career rather than because she wants to find a noble man to marry.

I found it strange how the film is a modern take on the traditional tale, one where women desire agency and want to have their own money and businesses and the ability to speak their mind, yet they live in an antiquated society which doesn’t allow them to do those things, they are simply wives and mothers and still attending balls so Prince Robert (Nicholas Galitzine) can pick his match. It just seemed very incongruous to have the modern feminist mindset with the traditional society setting.

I could appreciate what writer/director Kay Cannon was trying to do with her revisionist feminist take and I believe she had the best intentions but it leaves a lot to be desired. It came across as a token gesture and suggested that you can’t be a female entrepreneur and marry the man of your dreams, it has to be an either/or situation. I like that Cinderella didn’t want to become a subservient, voiceless princess and sacrifice her career dreams but I don’t think her decision-making was handled very well.

Given that Kenneth Branagh‘s live-action Disney remake of Cinderella only came out in 2015, it feels too soon to have this classic story told once again, even with the added musical numbers and modernisations. The film often felt like a pantomime production or one of those one-off live TV stagings rather than a legit movie, and although there are plenty of fun and enjoyable moments, it is mostly one big cringefest.

With the exception of two original songs, Cinderella is mostly compromised of an eclectic mix of cover tracks ranging from Jennifer Lopez’s Let’s Get Loud, The White Stripes’ Seven Nation Army, Queen’s Somebody to Love and Madonna’s Material Girl. The musical numbers are a mixed bag – some were brought to life well and worked within the context of the story, others didn’t make sense and there were a couple that made me cringe when they began.

The actors are impacted by the weak script, but Cabello still does well in her acting debut; she has charm, fun comic timing and a gorgeous singing voice. Idina Menzel was perfectly cast as her stepmother Vivian – she gets great musical numbers but her characterisation is all over the place – and there should have been more of Billy Porter as the Fab G (fairy godmother) as he was glorious! I found Galitzine simply fine and his sister Gwen (Tallulah Greive) rather annoying, despite her proposing worthy ideas about sustainability.

My favourite cast member was Minnie Driver as Robert’s mother Queen Beatrice – she puts King Rowan (Pierce Brosnan) in his place, refuses to keep her opinions to herself and has a fantastically sassy attitude and solid singing voice. Brosnan was also rather funny in a silly way and I liked that they poked fun in his singing abilities. Elsewhere, I enjoyed Rob Beckett as Cinderella’s pervy suitor Thomas and James Acaster, Romesh Ranganathan and James Corden as the mice/footmen. Not including Corden, the comedians’ casting will mean nothing to non-British audiences but I loved seeing them in a big movie, particularly Acaster, who seems so above this type of thing. They were the funniest characters and I thought Corden was fine too (I know many people dislike him).

I predict a wide critic and audience divide on this one – I think it’ll appeal to the masses more as it’s a feel-good, well-intentioned and harmless bit of fun.

On Amazon Prime Video from Friday 3rd September

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings: Film Review

shang chi

Courtesy of Disney

Shang-Chi may be a lesser-known Marvel comic book character but don’t go thinking that means his origins movie is going to be weak, boring or not worth your time – the Legend of the Ten Rings is another solid instalment in the MCU.

When we first meet Shaun/Shang-Chi (Simu Liu), we think he’s just this regular guy who works as a parking valet with his best friend Katy (Awkwafina) at a San Francisco hotel. His past life is revealed when members of the Ten Rings show up to steal his late mother’s pendant. He realises his father Wenwu (Tony Leung) must be plotting something and tries to track down his estranged sister Xialing (Meng’er Zhang) so they can stop his plans together.

First things first, the action sequences are unlike anything we’ve seen in the MCU so far. The fights are so inventive, exciting and different to the usual combat scenes we see in Marvel films. They were like a breath of fresh air and I couldn’t get enough. I’ve always preferred hand-to-hand combat to gunfights so I adored seeing such spectacularly choreographed and cleanly executed martial arts in a Marvel film. They were edited in a clear and logical way so you could follow what was happening. The standout scenes included the extraordinary bus fight and a jaw-dropping scaffolding setpiece – these both look so freaking cool – and Wenwu and Shang-Chi’s mother Jiang Li (Fala Chen)’s first standoff; it was gorgeous and like a dance.

So it’s a shame that does what almost every other Marvel film does in the final showdown – becomes a huge CGI mess. It was so disappointing as it had been refreshingly different up until that point and I had hoped it wouldn’t fall into that trap. Once the gigantic CGI beasts were introduced, I lost faith in it a little and didn’t care about the outcome of the story as much.

Speaking of story, I liked how the film balanced heartfelt family drama with the superhero sequences; it offered more depth than some other MCU movies while still managing to deliver the goods on the action and comedy fronts, both Marvel pre-requisites. I was also impressed by how much is spoken in Chinese and I know this will mean a lot in terms of representation. However, I thought the pace dipped slightly in the middle and there were perhaps too many flashbacks, even though these were really interesting, informative and helped us gradually understand the family’s history. They just slowed down the main narrative.

This film, directed by Destin Daniel Cretton, is designed to be the origins story for Shang-Chi and his introduction into the MCU but I didn’t think the story served him, as an individual, particularly well. I liked the family dynamics, their history and his platonic relationship with Katy but I didn’t get a great sense of who he was on his own. Perhaps further films will address this. This isn’t anything against Liu, who is physically impressive in the role. He is a surefire action star and I loved watching him fight. He has a background in martial arts and gymnastics and you could tell that he did a lot of his own stunts.

He has a great rapport with Awkwafina, who serves as the audience’s eyes into the world of the Ten Rings. She tags along for the ride and provides the comedy, although not as much of her motormouth shtick as usual. Leung grounds Wenwu and gives him humanity and a solid reasoning for his actions so he’s more than your average hammy superhero villain. Zhang is so damn cool and very kickass, while Michelle Yeoh is an action legend and I was delighted to see her onscreen. I didn’t enjoy Ben Kingsley‘s return as Iron Man 3’s Trevor Slattery as much as others seemed to. Besides one laugh-out-loud moment, I found him amusing but a bit too oddball to be truly funny.

With the exception of the disappointing showdown, Shang-Chi is a great Marvel movie with stunning visuals, locations and costumes, beautiful music and the best hand-to-hand combat the MCU has seen so far. Make sure you stay until the very very end.

In cinemas Friday 3rd September

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Our Ladies: Film Review

Our Ladies

Courtesy of Sony

I really wanted to see Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour on London’s West End a few years ago and now I’ve seen this film, I’m even more gutted that I didn’t because I know I would have enjoyed it so much.

This Scottish coming-of-age film, based Alan Warner‘s 1998 novel The Sopranos, which also served as the inspiration for the stage show, takes place over a single 24-hour period in 1996 and follows five friends – Orla (Tallulah Greive), Manda (Sally Messham), Chell (Rona Morison), Kylah (Marli Siu), and Fionnula (Abigail Lawrie) – from Fort William in the Scottish Highlands as they go on a trip to Edinburgh with their convent school, Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour, for a choir competition. However, the girls are more interested in using the trip to the city as an opportunity to drink, go wild, and get laid, much to Sister Condron’s (Kate Dickie) despair.

These rebellious Catholic girls are a riot to watch. They are brazenly boy-mad and sex-crazy and that’s essentially what fuels the raucous mayhem. As you might expect, the hilarious script is littered with sex references, double entendres and euphemisms as the girls routinely bring their conversations back to those top three things – drinking, boys, sex. The dialogue is hilarious and I loved how each actor brought their lines to life. They all had such bold and different personalities and it was a joy to watch them interact.

It sounds like this could be a flimsy story with no meat on its bones but that’s not the case at all. This film gets darker and more serious and complex than I was expecting, with the girls recklessly getting themselves in dodgy situations and interesting subplots involving teen pregnancy, BDSM, and characters questioning their sexuality.

The film has also some fun musical numbers – but it’s not a “randomly bursting into song” musical, as the songs are generally contained within performance scenes, and these covers are always led by Kylah. I loved them all, but my standout was their rendition of Soft Cell’s Tainted Love at a karaoke bar.

I enjoyed watching all the girls as a collective but my favourite was Siu as she was super cool, had a great voice and looked like an absolute rock star onstage. Greive brought some sensitivity to the piece and the tense friendship between Chell and Fionnula was very interesting. Although the focus is on the main girls, one of the most compelling storylines revolved around head girl Kay (Eve Austin), who isn’t remotely as perfect as she seems.

Our Ladies is a lot of feel-good fun. I highly recommend.

In cinemas Friday 27th August

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Candyman: Film Review

CANDYMAN

Courtesy of Universal

I watched the original 1992 Candyman only a couple of years ago and I thought it was simply fine, so I was very intrigued by what Nia DaCosta and Jordan Peele were going to do with their sequel.

The supernatural slasher horror follows Anthony McCoy (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II), a struggling artist who has just moved into a new gentrified development on the site of Cabrini Green – the housing projects heavily featured in the first film – in Chicago with his girlfriend, art curator Brianna (Teyonah Parris). Following a chance encounter with a longtime resident William (Colman Domingo), Anthony becomes obsessed with the urban legend of the Candyman, who has a hook for a hand and will kill you if you say his name in the mirror five times.

Like Peele – who co-wrote the movie with director DaCosta and Win Rosenfeld – has done in the past with films such as Get Out and Us, Candyman blends horror with social commentary, shining a light on police brutality, the staggering regularity of the violence in the poor, predominantly Black neighbourhood of Cabrini Green, and how the community was cut off and forgotten about before becoming gentrified. I liked the smart screenplay and the interesting and unexpected ways it connected to the original, with it honouring what came before while also bringing it bang up to date in the present day.

However, it doesn’t quite come together in the end. I had quite a few issues with the last 10-15 minutes. I didn’t think the themes were handled particularly well and lacked nuance and I didn’t understand the motivation behind a certain character’s evil switch. It didn’t make sense or feel earned. I kept thinking, “What’s happened?! Why is he like this now?!” I also came away quite confused because I didn’t understand what it all meant. I have so many questions!

One of my favourite aspects of this movie was the cinematography. There were so many freaking cool and unexpected shots, with standouts such as the mirrored cityscapes and witnessing a killing through a dropped cosmetics mirror. Also on the visuals front, I loved the shadow puppets, which were used to bring to life the urban folklore – they looked amazing and captured my attention completely.

Those coming to Candyman hoping for a terrifying horror fix may be disappointed because, like the original, it has sporadic moments of scares but is mostly focused on creating a chilling and unnerving atmosphere. However, there is still plenty of blood and a little bit of gore and some absolutely gross body horror that made me wince and watch through my fingers. This film never falls into obvious horror tropes either and subverts one in such an amazing way that it got the movie’s biggest laugh during my screening.

Although I would have liked the film to have delved a little deeper into Anthony, I was impressed by how Abdul-Mateen became this increasingly erratic and unstable person who is consumed by the Candyman legend to the detriment of everything else in his life. I really liked Parris as she was not just Anthony’s girlfriend, she is the breadwinner with her shit together and she’s not simply there to support him. My favourite character was Brianna’s camp brother Troy (Nathan Stewart-Jarrett), he was very opinionated and made me chuckle.

I would recommend rewatching the 1992 Candyman before seeing this sequel to refresh your memory as it’ll improve your viewing experience.

In cinemas Friday 27th August

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Censor: Film Review

Censor

Courtesy of Sundance Institute

It seemed like everybody was talking about Censor after its premiere at Sundance earlier this year so I’m glad to have finally seen it so I can understand what all the fuss is about.

The British horror film is set in England in 1985, at the height of the ‘video nasty’ scandal, in which certain movies – typically low-budget horror films – were criticised for their violent content in the press. The film follows Enid (Niamh Algar), a British censor who spends her days watching such movies and deciding what cuts need to be made before they can be released (unless they’re rejected outright). One day, she watches Don’t Go in the Church by Frederick North and it conjures up memories of her past and the day that her sister went missing in 1965, and she becomes obsessed with the notion that his leading lady Alice Lee (Sophia La Porta) is her sister.

This film starts off as a fairly normal, straightforward drama about censorship, video nasties and the suggestion that movies can influence real-life violence. I enjoyed that aspect of the movie and found it really interesting and would have happily watched a film purely about that. But then everything takes a turn as Enid slowly loses the plot and her grip on reality. She decides to seek out the director while he’s shooting a film on location in the woods and from that point onwards, it becomes a different film entirely and moves fully into horror territory.

From the reactions I’d seen, I was expecting Censor to be this crazy, trippy movie – and it finally becomes that in the final 15-20 minutes, when I started to like it less. The lines between reality and fiction and what’s the movie and what’s real life get blurred, and even though director Prano Bailey-Bond plays around with the aspect ratio, I struggled to tell the difference and felt quite confused! It leaves you scratching your head and ends on such an annoyingly ambiguous note.

I liked many elements about the movie though – I thought the screenplay was well written, there were a few moments that made me laugh and its 84-minute runtime zips along at a brisk pace. Algar was a compelling lead and she capably handled Enid’s descent into madness.

I certainly preferred the first half of Censor, even if it was more of a period drama than a horror, but I can appreciate the bold and original decisions Bailey-Bond made with the second half, which is thrilling and gripping yet confusing.

In cinemas from Friday 20th August.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.