Zoolander 2

Really, really, ridiculously disappointing.

The Assassin

There are martial arts movies and there are martial arts movies. The Assassin isn't either.

Batman v Superman

A bold, mature exploration of myths and epics - followed by a two-hour mess.

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Film review: Steve Jobs Print E-mail
Written by Ivan Radford   
Friday, 13 November 2015 18:35

Director: Danny Boyle
Cast: Michael Fassbender, Kate Winslet, Katherine Waterston, Jeff Daniels, Michael Stahlburg
Certificate: 15

Years ago, a man changed the world by introducing it to the Apple Macintosh. Part-designer good, part-useful tool, it paved the way for a revolution in our relationship with technology; a personal computer so personal it could say hello. It may sound like an overstatement, but one only needs to glance around to see the impact Steve Jobs has had upon our everyday lives; whether Apple-made or not, a large portion of society now interacts primarily through handheld devices that we're told originated in one man's mind - a place of creative ingenuity, commercial savvy and ruthless ambition.

It's no wonder, then, that Steve Jobs the movie has been made. The biopic is a natural successor to David Fincher's The Social Network, the second part, if you will, in an ongoing saga of mythologising key figures from our modern history. Aaron Sorkin, who has written both, has become something of an official chronicler of these era-defining men, his recognisably stylised speech adding to the sense that we're witnessing legends being crafted on screen.

Danny Boyle's film is a triumph because it tries to do precisely the opposite of that.

Rather than give us the hagiographic take on a well-known name, Steve Jobs spends every second of its runtime cutting its subject down to size. We discover almost immediately that he's imaginative and ambitious - and also an asshole. He refuses point blank to give credit to those who built the Apple company before him, much to the annoyance of Steve Wozniak (Rogen). He threatens engineer Andy Hertzfeld (Stuhlbarg) to make sure his computer says hello during its launch, no matter what it takes. And he flat-out denies that Lisa, a girl deemed 90 per cent likely to be his daughter, is in any way his child.

One of the few to stand up to his petulant ego and get away with it is his assistant, Joanna Hoffman (Winslet), who is as honest as she is loyal. "What's the problem?" he asks between one of many fraught exchanges with those around him. "I don't know," she retorts, "but I'm sure it can be traced back to you."

The cast are uniformly excellent as their real-life characters, from Rogen - proving, once again, that he's nuanced performer who should be taken seriously more often - to Jeff Daniels as Jobs' weary mentor, Apple CEO John Sculley, and sometime firer.

Fassbender towers over them all as the iconic figure, shaking off any niggling thoughts that he doesn't look like Jobs in an instant. "What do you do?" demands Wozniak, as they stand in the orchestra pit in a theatre. "I play the orchestra," comes the magnanimous reply. He embodies that anti-social arrogance physically as well as verbally, from his wolfish grin to his cold stare. He's in every scene of the film and you can feel the pressure of his presence.

That's part of Sorkin's secret: while Steve is the star of the show, it's never at the expense of the others. In fact, it's their perspectives that we ultimately walk away with, showcasing Steve's selfish pride as a flaw rather than a benefit. The other is the script's taut, three-act structure, which only presents the action taking place just before the three defining press events of his career: the 1984 Macintosh launch, his educational follow-up, NeXT, and the iMac, a few years later. That theatrical device gives an urgency and a momentum to the fast-paced montage of confrontations, but it also places an emphasis on the personal life of Jobs versus the public sheen put on display. Apple products may be gloss and glamour, but these are the behind-the-scenes components he was so determined to lock away in the "end to end" design.

The cast revel in the writer's typically snappy dialogue, which flashes back within its artificial confines to tremendous effect - and finds both humour amid the tension and heart amid the cables. Thanks to a strong turn from Perla Haney-Jardine as Jobs' daughter in the final act, when the inevitably clunky mentions of iPads and iPods arrive, they're not sales pitches but emotional pledges, building up a personal meaning behind each product.

But Danny Boyle emerges as the core of the whole piece. It takes a strong director to tackle a Sorkin screenplay and the Trainspotting and Sunshine veteran makes it his own. His camera is thrillingly dynamic, always moving forward like his enterprising subject, adding action to the static indoor locations. His frames are full of Dutch angles, adding an edge to the order and precision of the Apple production line; a striking visual echo of the chaos and claustrophobia that flood the minutes before the crucial events. Even the stock used for each act varies, from the soft 16mm of Jobs' rebellious youth and the cinematic feel of 35mm for 1988's dramatic comedown, to the the crisp HD of digital for 1998's finale.

If the visuals are the perfect accompaniment for Aaron's script - Elliot Graham's editing deserves an Oscar - it's Boyle's ability with actors that gives the film's processor extra power. Rehearsing each stage in-depth before shooting, the ensemble click smoothly together, with Winslet, in particular, whose Hoffman has a complex blend of Polish, Armenian and American accents, adding a touch of engaging humanity to all the back-stabbing machinations. The result is a gripping, fascinating study of a man and a machine that has shaped the 21st Century - precisely because it avoids singing their praises. For every blow to its subject's myth on-screen, Steve Jobs is another testament to the filmmaker's talent behind it. The designer may be an American legend, but this filmmaker is a British national treasure.

Film review: Brooklyn Print E-mail
Written by Ivan Radford   
Friday, 06 November 2015 13:06

Director: John Cowley
Cast: Saoirse Ronan, Emory Cohen, Domhnall Gleeson, Jim Broadbent
Certificate: 12A

How do you build a life in a new country? That's the question facing Eilis (Ronan) in Brooklyn - until it's replaced by another, equally tough question: what if you then realise you could have an equally perfect life back where you came from? Brooklyn manages to answer both, along with another, equally challenging question: how do you make a film about a place without actually filming there?

The visuals are carefully assembled, but the script is the key. Nick Hornby adapts Colm Toibin's novel for the screen with typical wit and heart, creating a story that manages to be full of both cheerful hope and painful nostalgia. Saoirse Ronan shines in the lead, the excellent make-up and costume team making her as plain and blank as possible against the vibrant, colourful New York scene. Her face, which so subtly shifts between emotions, is perfect for the conflicted part - ably matched by Cohen's swoonsome suitor, who, unlike our heroine, never feels less than certain about his feelings. You suspect Emory is one smile away from heartthrob stardom.

Cohen is as charming as Domhnall Gleeson's boy back in Ireland is polite - between Star Wars and Ex Machina, Gleeson is on roll right now. Spending as much time with each of the men, we feel Eilis' torn affection mentally as well as emotionally; as soon as we've gotten used to one romance, the plot wrenches us away to admire another. The jolt is smoothed by Julie Walters' hilariously uptight landlady, who also helps to juggle the simultaneously cheerful and sad mood.

It's the understanding of what makes a home, though, that gives Brooklyn its old-fashioned magic. Director John Crowley shoots the tranquility of Ireland's Wexford with a twinkle in his lens - there's no faking that genuine location - but it's the gradual assembling of clothes, cosmetics, work colleagues and confidence that convinces. That attention to period detail, the act of reconstructing New York in Montreal, becomes an intrinsic part of Eilis' journey; her character is pieced together in the same way that each part of her life falls into place. As Eilis looks more and more American, she feels more and more real - and her tale becomes more and more moving. The result is a funny and unabashedly sentimental tale of identity, belonging and starting over. It doesn't matter where you watch Brooklyn: you'll cry many times.

Film review: The Lobster Print E-mail
Written by Ivan Radford   
Sunday, 25 October 2015 14:10

Director: Yorgos Lanthimos
Cast: Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz, Olivia Colman, John C Reilly, Léa Seydoux, Ben Whishaw
Certificate: 15

Quiet, painful and occasionally funny, being single sucks. Well, it does if you exist in The Lobster. Director Yorgos Lanthimos' comedy is as darkly spiky as its name suggests.

The film is set in the near-future, where being single is illegal. Not coupled? Then you have to check in at The Hotel, where you have 45 days to find a mate. Succeed and you're moved to a yacht for a honeymoon before being sent out into the wider, married world. Fail and your stay comes to an end. Oh, and you're turned into an animal of your choosing.

It's an inspired conceit, cutting right through society's attitudes towards relationships; being in one is accepted as the end goal for all people, while those without partners are considered somehow abnormal. Writers Lanthimos and Efthymis Filippou tease out the tyranny of romantic conventions, forcing their hotel guests to fill in a form detailing everything about them. Homosexual or heterosexual David (Farrell) is asked, as he checks in with his dog. No, you can't put both.

As he mingles with the other inmates, that desperate need to pair off and put everyone in boxes turns them into walking checklists of likes and dislikes. With such a short window to find someone suitable, even physical traits become fair game: if you have a limp, your soul mate would obviously have one too, right?

The film takes its cool logic to bleak, hilarious extremes. Ben Whishaw's guest ("The Limping Man") starts injuring other parts of his body to much other people's ailments, while the ever-brilliant John C Reilly ("Lisping Man") is all too eager to join in the regular hunts, which earn guests an extra day's breathing space for every runaway or single person they can shoot in the surrounding woods.

The whole enterprise is overseen by Olivia Colman, who lords it up with deadpan restraint; even when she starts singing a duet with her husband, the mood is as unamorous as could be. The rest of the ensemble is equally understated, reinforcing the confined claustrophobia - a vacuum of affection that makes every laugh (and there are many) as amusing as it is heartbreaking.

Outside of the hotel, a gaggle of Loners try to overthrow this monogamistic monopoly. Led by the intensely brooding Léa Seydoux, they prove just as uselessly oppressive, demanding no bonding at all between members. Amid the clash of courting traditions, Farrell (who is at his best when playing such pathetic, vulnerable humans) and Rachel Weisz's "Short Sighted Woman" emerge as a cry for genuine intimacy. And yet even their sweet chemistry is undermined by the fact they both need glasses - a common affliction of which the hotel would no doubt approve - and Weisz's wonderfully blunt narration.

In an age of online dating, where we're encouraged to scour the world for potential matches using data and facts, The Lobster reels in these social rituals and catches how absurd they really are. It's a shame, then, that the second half sees the prickly clarity of its message become muddled and lost in the woods. Farrell's choice of animal is the eponymous crustacean, which lives forever and always remains fertile. It's a smart choice, not just for a new form but for the film's title: like its namesake, The Lobster is at its most satisfying when contained inside its shell.

LFF film review: Goosebumps Print E-mail
Written by Ivan Radford   
Sunday, 18 October 2015 08:14

Director: Rob Letterman
Cast: Jack Black, Dylan Minnette, Odeya Rush, Amy Ryan
Showtimes: 12.45, 18th

If you didn't grow up reading Goosebumps, R L Stine's kid-friendly horror stories, you'll have heard of them. The novels have sold thousands upon thousands of copies worldwide, creeping young teens out of their adolescent skins for years. It's perhaps a surprise, then, that it's taken so long for someone to make a full-blown, big-budget movie based on the franchise - the 12A-ready premise and built-in audience of young fans and nostalgic 90s kids make it a reliable hit. Even more surprising, though, is the approach the film takes.

Rather than adapt a single short story, the script puts all of Stine's monsters on the screen at once, as they unite to attack the sleepy town of Madison, Delaware - a place where Jack (Minnette) and his mum (Ryan) have just moved. Soon, he finds himself intrigued by the mysterious neighbour next door (Black), not least because of his daughter, Hanna (Rush).

You can hear the predictable romance coming a mile off, but it's fortunately drowned out by the noise of the spooky spectacle waiting to burst onto the screen. Director Rob Letterman lines up creature after creature with childlike glee, using top-notch effects to bring the monster mash to life with a playful peril that captures the experience of reading the books. The tone may be lighter, but care is taken to mount an impressive variety of ghouls and giggles: sinister garden gnomes wield mini-pickaxes, abominable snowmen tear down buildings, while Slappy the ventriloquist dummy runs around shouting bad puns at anyone who will listen.

The love for the material is most apparent in the script's over-arching narrative, which (not unlike The Pagemaster and Inkheart) places a welcome emphasis on the power of reading and imagination. As much as this is a money-maker for publishers Scholastic, there's a commendable chance that it could inspire youngsters not only to buy a book but also pick up a pen and start scribbling themselves.

For a film that values writing so highly, though, it's a shame that male screenwriters Darren Lemke, Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski fail so miserably when it comes to penning a female character. The cast are all good, from Black's hammy recluse to Minnette's likeable lead, but Odeya Rush is wasted in a role so two-dimensional it barely makes it off the page. Jillian Bell gets to be brave and funny as Jack's quirky aunt, Lorraine, but compared to her, Hannah feels like a non-entity. For pure entertaining chills, though, Goosebumps is a lot of fun and sure to drum fear into the hearts of kids of all ages.

LFF film review: Desierto Print E-mail
Written by Ivan Radford   
Sunday, 18 October 2015 06:58

Director: Jonas Cuaron
Cast: Gael Garcia Bernal, Jeffrey Dean Morgan
Showtimes: 13.00, 18th

After co-writing Gravity, Jonas Cuaron brings us back down to Earth with a loud bump with Desierto. A film about Mexican immigrants trying to survive being hunted down on the US border, it couldn't seem more different to the Oscar-winning sci-fi, but the two have a surprising amount in common.

On the one hand, they're both survival thrillers. Where Sandra Bullock's astronaut finds herself facing the challenge of staying alive in space, Desierto's threat is the hostile desert, in which Moises (Gael Garcia Bernal) and others try to escape the sights of a sniper rifle in the hands of a right-wing American (Dean Morgan). But both prove Cuaron's knack for combining genre flicks with heavier themes: here, the real villain is the intolerance of other people.

If it sounds heavy-handed, that's the secret to Desierto's brilliance: you're never hit over the head with its pro-immigration stance. You're simply left to run with it from the barrel of a gun. Yet that stripped-down simplicity makes the movie even more relevant: as news headlines remind us every day, the battle between migrants and natives is happening all over the world, which means that Desierto could almost be taking place anywhere.

Morgan and Bernal embrace that bare-bones approach with physical performances that carry a surprising emotional weight; Bernal's panicked face, desperate to avoid death, is immediately engaging, while Morgan swaggers about like John Wayne in an anti-Western, accompanied by a vicious dog. As the widescreen landscape, a frontier so idolised by the golden age of US cinema, turns into an unwelcome barrier, Cuaron's immersive sound design and sweltering atmosphere make for an oppressive watch. The result is viscerally exciting and pulsatingly political. It may not be as high-profile as Gravity, but Desierto is every bit as gripping.

LFF film review: The Witch Print E-mail
Written by Ivan Radford   

Director: Robert Eggers
Cast: Anya Taylor-Joy, Ralph Ineson, Kate Dickie

Never trust a goat. That could arguably be the moral of the story in The Witch, which sees a Christian family head into the forest to live a more devout life in 17th century New England.

Alas, God, or another power, seems to have other plans and, sure enough, things take a turn for the dark. Their crops wither, their religious conviction falters and a baby goes missing - taken, it seems, by the witch of the woods. The glimpses we get of this mysterious figure are certainly disturbing, but the film's terrifying power lies in the lengthy periods where nothing is seen at all.

Director Robert Eggers mounts an atmosphere of pure horror through chilling visuals, a haunting score and a palpable sense of unease. It's made all the more effective by the film's use of language: our characters speak in a gloriously antiquated fashion, giving events the feel of history more than horror: the period detail is scarily realistic, which allows the script to sell its scares with a serious face. The Exorcist? No, this is more like watching a B-side to The Crucible.

Ineson and Dickie are excellent as the fraying married couple, one as intense as the other is desperate, and the wonderful Anya Taylor-Joy (as eldest daughter, Thomasin) wields her coming-of-age as a supernatural force in its own right. All the while, the youngest kids dance about the farm and sing to "Black Philip", their goat, who may or may not be the devil. Is satan really working against them? Is this wintry landscape simply too harsh for humans to survive? And is it their determined, dogmatic dad's fault?

Between the children's hokey games and the mounting hysteria lies the spellbinding effect of stories and faith, where what you believe can be as damning as it is liberating. Across 90 slow yet beautiful, minutes, The Witch slips under your skin and leaves you squirming in discomfort. A genuinely creepy horror.

LFF film review: Black Mass Print E-mail
Written by Ivan Radford   
Friday, 16 October 2015 18:33

Director: Scott Cooper
Cast: Johnny Depp, Joel Edgerton
Showtimes: 19.15, 11th / 11.30, 12th / 21.00, 16th

Who doesn't love a heavy-hitting crime drama? Scott Cooper clearly does, switching from Crazy Heart to this Boston tale of corruption. His folk drama featured two fantastic turns from Jeff Bridges and Colin Farrell and he draws two similarly gripping turns from Johnny Depp and Joel Edgerton.

Depp plays the notorious gangster Jimmy "Whitey" Bulger, a part that could seem similar to his role in Public Enemies, were it not for Depp's transformed appearance. Looking more like a vampiric Christopher Walken than a drug dealer, he sports his slicked hair and blue contacts with a chilling stare that speaks volumes about his ruthlessness. Edgerton, meanwhile, proves himself one of the best character actors around with another generous performance as John Connolly, an FBI agent who works with Bulger to bring down the Mafia - only to unwittingly strengthen his childhood friend's grip on the local crime scene.

Edgerton's is the more interesting character - his increasingly gelled hair visibly rising as his moral integrity sinks - but Cooper's film keeps trying to make Bulger its lead. The result is a unfocused landscape of lowlives, albeit one that grips because each actor's role is so well performed. Even Benedict Cumberbatch, who is unnecessarily cast as Jimmy's political brother, Billy, brings clout to his bit part. Stitched together with superb editing, from title years and voice over testimonies to give an air of inevitable downfall to beautiful crossover fades that see cars driving on rivers and cities filling up faces, Black Mass ultimately loses weight by being over-stuffed, but this saga still carries an impressive heft.

LFF film review: Office (3D) Print E-mail
Written by Ivan Radford   
Friday, 16 October 2015 17:22

Director: Johnnie To
Cast: Sylvia Chang, Chow Yun Fat, Eason Chan, Tang Wei
Showtimes: 20.45, 16th / 12.00, 17th

Is there a more exciting phrase in the English language than "a Johnnie To musical"? The director's eye for martial arts choreography makes him a perfect match for the glitz of Broadway.

Office does exactly what it says on the tin: the entire spectacle is based around the day-to-day goings-on in a workplace. The workplace in question? Jones & Sunn, a billion-dollar financial giant, which is just about to find itself on the wrong end of the financial crisis. There's CEO Chang (Sylvia Chang), who enjoys pushing other people's buttons more than those on her computer. There's David, who's desperate to climb up the company ladder and into her lap. There are bright young things Lee Xiang (Wang Ziyi) and Kat (Lang Yeuting), both eager to make their marks in the world - and, overseeing it all, Chairman Ho (Chow Yun Fat - who else?), who is also nursing a wife in a coma.

The cast through themselves into the fray with gusto, juggling the script's elegant balance of romance, inter-cubicle gossip, greed and ruin. The songs, though, are a little too one-note to fully jazz up proceedings: between the gentle piano ballads, it doesn't help that the lyrics, due to translation from Cantonese to English, end up somewhere between literal and poetic (one tender scene about dreams and hopes discusses the concept through metaphors involving wind and pigs).

But that challenging idiosyncrasy is a snug fit for what is an undeniably snazzily-dressed number. The set design is some of the most stunning of recent years (Wong Kar Wai's regular collaborator, William Chang, deserves an Oscar): the whole production takes place inside a warehouse of pipes and glass, an angular world that fuses the artifice of modern finance and unfaithful relationships with a beautiful sheen. Indeed, To's camera is the real star of the show, swooshing behind a gigantic timepiece in the middle of the stereoscopic stage. The actors cavort up and down stairs, their clothes gradually moving from the monochrome of office attire to colourful ball gowns and lingerie of the night. All the while, the absurd clock ticks over everyone's professional and private lives. The music may not earn a promotion into your list of favourite musicals, but Office is a show-stopping achievement. Spreadsheets have rarely seemed glamorous.

LFF film review: Dheepan Print E-mail
Written by Ivan Radford   
Friday, 16 October 2015 16:56

Director: Jacques Audiard
Cast: Antonythasan Jesuthasan, Kalieaswari Srinivasan, Claudine Vinasithamby
Showtimes: 18.30, 16th 14.15, 17th

Immigration has never been a more pressing issue for the world at large, but it's something that has always been a part of civilisation: the need for the booming human population to move elsewhere, whether by necessity or desire, and make a new life. Jacques Audiard's Dheepan explores the issue, but never in the way that you expect.

The film follows a family who relocate from Sri Lanka to Paris, where they must learn to fit in with the unwelcome locals. The twist? They're not a family at all: one's a Tamil Tiger (Dheepan - Antonythasan Jesuthasan) and the other can't speak a word of French (Yalini - Kalieaswari Srinivasan). Both are strangers, including their daughter (Claudine Vinasithamby). Shacking up in a shed on a housing estate, they're surrounded, respectively, by gangsters in the neighbouring block and bullies at school - hardly the escape they hoped for when fleeing the Sri Lankan Civil War.

The ensuing tangle of human relationships carries all the unpredictable mess of real life, from the challenge of sorting mail in a foreign language (Dheepan is a caretaker for the estate) to the haunting memory of being a soldier. There's even time for unplanned bonding with a gentle hoodlum.

Audiard has a knack for empathising with outsiders. Here, his film is full of them. "We're not from here," the French kid tells Yalini of their callous attitude towards drug-dealing. "That stops us giving a shit." She replies in her own tongue; a meaningful conversation in which neither can grasp the full meaning of what they're saying.

As the family struggle to connect with each other, things boldly wander from romance to violence and back again. Between Jesuthasan's shell-shocked, intimidating male to Srinivasan's heartbreakingly loyal wife (a scene-stealing study in silent nods, smiles and shrugs), the convincing result means we do give a shit; like the makeshift family unit itself, we're never allowed to settle in one genre for long.

LFF film review: The Boy and the Beast Print E-mail
Written by Ivan Radford   
Friday, 16 October 2015 16:37

Director: Mamoru Hosoda
Cast: Kumiko Asô, Rikî Furankî, Suzu Hirose
Showtimes: 18.15, 16th / 15.15, 17th

A little over a year ago, Studio Ghibli announced that it was shutting its doors, possibly for good. Who would make animations to enchant audiences the world over now? While Ireland's Tomm Moore continues to make a convincing case with the mesmerising Song of the Sea, he's got competition: Mamoru Hosoda, director of Wolf Children, whose latest is a thrilling tale of friendship and fighting.

The tale follows Ren, a young boy who finds himself alone when his mother passes away, years after his dad left. But we're first introduced to the kingdom of Jutengai, a parallel world full of beasts. There, the contest is fierce to become the new Lord. The challengers? The honourable Iozen and the towering Kumatetsu. There's only one catch: the latter needs an apprentice.

All this is related to us by burning embers, who fly around the screen, reassembling their scorches into people, buildings and places - a dazzling prologue to an equally beautiful 120 minutes, which swoops, swings swords and throws whales into crowded streets with colourful imagination. There are no prizes for guessing what happens when Ren and Kumatetsu cross paths, but their tale of paternal figure and young role model is impressively complex, taking time to acknowledge both Ren's real dad (something that a lesser family flick would overlook) and the fantasy universe's detailed mythology. The result packs in emotion and action galore: think How to Train Your Samurai Dragon, or Free Willy (So That You Can Punch Him in the Face). And yet there's still time to pause for a brief romantic subplot featuring Our Little Sister's Suzu Hirose, some classic literature and a welcome reminder that education is a key part of growing up and becoming strong.

Epic battles, heart-warming feelings and the merits of using libraries? The Boy and the Beast has everything you could want. The future of animation in a post-Ghibli world just got a little brighter.

LFF film review: Victoria Print E-mail
Written by Ivan Radford   
Friday, 16 October 2015 16:08

Director: Sebastian Schipper
Cast: Laia Costa, Frederick Lau, Franz Rogowski
Showtimes: 18.10, 16th / 12.10, 17th

There's nothing more impressive than a film with a really long take. From Scorsese's Goodfellas and Kubrick's Paths of Glory to Welles' A Touch of Evil and Antonioni's The Passenger. Béla Tarr has a lot to answer for. But even he would be gob-smacked by Sebastian Schipper's film, Victoria, which unfolds in real time - in one continuous shot. For two hours.

The film follows the eponymous girl (Laia Costa), who finds her holiday in Berlin hijacked when she bumps into Sonne (Lau) and friends one evening. The pair get to know each other quietly, bonding with all the loosely-performed realism of Richard Linklater - then things take a twist for the dramatic.

Schipper's decision to shoot everything in one go is less bold and more outrageously bonkers, but it's breathtaking to witness. After all, even Hitchcock's Rope had to fake it. And he didn't even leave the living room. Victoria, on the other hand, goes everywhere, from clubs to rooftops to car parks to other people's living rooms. The genre shifts too, from romance to heist to drug-fuelled partying - a tornado of unpredictable twists.

That pacing helps disguise the slightly far-fetched plot, which escalates surprisingly quickly, but we also connect with the characters through the verisimilitude; we experience what they experience and, like Victoria, can only get to know the others based on that. Exposition, drama, violent; it all happens at the speed it does in real life.

And yet Schipper is also confident to allow that momentum to vary: the soft first act includes, amazingly, a piano solo by Victoria, which Costa would have played without an error live on camera, before going on to perform everything else for another 90 minutes. In the aftermath of that beautiful sequence, Victoria's frustration, anger and fear are even more astonishing to witness. They don't even pause to go to the bathroom. Thrilling, funny and all kinds of epic, Victoria is a relentless tour de force that doesn't let up. In your face, Bela Tarr.

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