This Month at HOME – Eliza Slawther

As well as being a full-time member of the Sonder writing team Eliza Slawther is an English Literature undergraduate. She was born in Warrington and is studying at the University of Manchester. This month at HOME is a regular segment for Sonder Film with Eliza writing monthly reviews, casting a critical eye over releases while supporting the independent arts in Manchester.

This Month at HOME

Legend (2015)

Marketed as a crime-thriller, Legend is a film about the Kray twins and their rule over London’s East End set in the 1960s. Playing the parts of both Reggie and Ronnie Kray, Tom Hardy triumphs as the glue that holds the film together and makes it credible as a work of cinema. Although it feels somewhat unnecessary for him to play both of the twins, it certainly doesn’t make the film any less enjoyable and there is a certain seamlessness to his performance. Unfortunately the same cannot be said for the rest of the film, with both the storyline and cinematography falling particularly flat.

Emily Browning is another great addition to the film, acting well as Frances Shea despite having a fairly banal script to work with. Although she plays the part well when on screen, her narrative voiceover throughout the film is one of the low points, feeling purposeless and clumsy, especially towards the end. It’s almost as though her voice is stalking the characters and their every move; instead of enhancing the viewer’s experience, it is distracting and forced.

The main reason why the film falls below expectations is that the focus is primarily on the relationship between Reggie and Frances, and does so in a way that makes parts of the film appear more like a low budget rom-com. The breathy exchanges of cheesy compliments are particularly clichéd, almost to the point of being laughable.

Hardy’s superb performance was unfortunately not enough to salvage the rest of the film, with the questionable structure and ill-fitting music making it particularly forgettable. In its entirety, Legend is tediously commercial and predictable, lacking not only substance in terms of plot and script, but also in cinematography, aesthetic quality and direction.


The Lobster (2015)

Emotionally charged and highly subversive, The Lobster presents an alternative dystopian world in a beautifully subversive and satirical way.

It is essentially a film split into two parts; the first depicting the claustrophobic world of the hotel in which singles have 45 days to find a partner before being turned into animals. Colin Farrell takes the lead brilliantly as David, the only named character in the film. Whilst this emphasis could have had the effect of leaving other characters feeling flat it instead highlights the notion that each is an individual with their own past, thoughts and personal agenda; none of which the audience gets a true insight into. The film is shrouded by mystery in this way, which allows it to focus on particular themes and ideas without attempting to cram in excessive amounts of background information.

The score is fitting, and the aesthetic quality of the film high even if the original plot and satirical humour stand out as The Lobster’s best qualities. The film is highly philosophical, posing questions about the meaning of relationships and inherent selfish nature of individuals without fully resolving them or offering an answer. Instead the effect is introspective, subtle and enigmatic. The ‘nosebleed girl’ and ‘man with a limp’ are particularly interesting; the man with a limp deliberately gives himself nosebleeds by whatever means necessary in order for them to have some common ground on which to bond. Whether the point is that common ground is not the most important part of love, or that people are completely selfish and will lie to forge relationships for their own benefit is unclear. The Lobster shows a world where superficial matches are placed above honesty and emotion.

The second half of the film is set out in the woods, with a different set of characters now surrounding the protagonist. The Lobster is a very complex film although it is brilliantly executed and perpetually retains its characteristic self-awareness and dark humour.

The final scene is a perfect ending, both emotionally draining and serves as a final reminder of the difficulties and strange nature of love, happiness and our perception of both.


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