Posts tagged "Carey Mulligan"

“The Dig” A Masterful Work of Art

January 27th, 2021 Posted by Review 0 thoughts on ““The Dig” A Masterful Work of Art”

Don’t let the title, “The Dig,” scare you away. It’s a riveting artistic period piece that will surprise and enthrall you as you discover a well-buried treasure which is exactly what this film is about. Carey Mulligan stars as Edith Pretty, a young mother to Robert (Archie Barnes) and a widow, a result of WWII, who feels beckoned by her land’s century’s old mounds of earth to dig deeply. Edith hires a knowledgeable man, Basil Brown (Ralph Fiennes), who may not have a formal degree in archaeology but knows the area’s land better than anyone. Together, this odd pair forge not only a deep friendship, but unearth the secrets from the past.

Based on a true story and the novel by John Preston, Moira Buffini’s screenplay brilliantly imbues her characters with a richness that comfortably seeps onto the screen and into your soul. We meet Edith, a stoic woman who’s youth defies her persona as she raises her son alone. Hiring Brown for a pittance, but to his delight, Edith directs him to several mounds on her land. Keeping one another at an arm’s distance, Robert finds a new father figure in Brown and we get to learn much more about the background of this learned but stifled man thanks to his station in life.

In true British style, the emotional elements of the film and of the characters are buried as deeply as the 7th century bones yet to be discovered, but like these artifacts, the layers are pulled away every so carefully to reveal complexly beautiful characters. Of course, in any entertaining story there is a villain and this story is no exception, but remember, this is based on true events. The villains in this case come in the form of leading museum directors who covet what’s been discovered. This becomes a territorial fight as Edith, who refuses to be steamrolled by the patriarchal society in which she lives, must make the right decisions for herself, her son, and the educational realm.

The story becomes even richer as it interjects a love story between the married assistant Peggy (Lily James) and Edith’s nephew and photographer Rory (Johnny Flynn), carefully touching upon a forbidden love of that time period. Additionally, the tender and connected moments between Brown and Robert make this story even more satisfying and powerfully authentic.

This is Edith and Brown’s story to tell and thanks to not only their talents but the skillful direction of Simon Stone, we find that the subtleties and moments where not a word is spoken, there is so much actually conveyed. Mulligan and Fiennes shine in these refined yet evocative roles. As their friendship and connection slowly grow, spilling over to give you a sense of warmth and satisfaction, you enter their world and become a part of their every emotion, no matter how small, feeling the utmost importance. Both actors have an incredible range, particularly if you’ve seen Mulligan recently in “Promising Young Woman” and Fiennes transforms himself into a shy man who lives for the land just like his father and his ancestors before him. Lacking confidence, his mannerisms and body language shout louder than any voice as his character is subjugated by the upper class. And with all of this, we remain connected with Brown and Edith—indelible emotions and characters.

“The Dig” is a work of art, both visually and emotionally thanks to a beautifully complex script, masterful direction, and, of course, a talented cast lead by incomparable lead actors. This heartbreakingly endearing story is one not to be missed and is streaming on Netflix Friday, Jan. 29, 2021.

4 Stars

“Promising Young Woman” promises to entertain, shock, and educate

December 14th, 2020 Posted by Review, women reviews 0 thoughts on ““Promising Young Woman” promises to entertain, shock, and educate”

A vengeful woman is a dangerous woman and Emerald Fennell’s debut feature film “Promising Young Woman” accentuates this to an extreme. We meet Cassandra (Carey Mulligan) in a drunken stupor alone in a club, late at night, as three young men across the room have a revolting conversation about her situation. One, seemingly the morally best of the three, offers to drive her home as her friends have abandoned her and she’s lost her phone. Cassandra unwittingly finds herself in this man’s apartment and in a situation in which she’s not giving consent. And with the words, “Hey! What are you doing?” repeated twice, the tone and actions are set for the remainder of the film.

WATCH THE TRAILER HERE

Cassandra works in a coffee shop and seems to have lost her way. Living at home, pushing 30, and in an entry-level job, this young woman was once a promising medical student, shining brighter than her colleagues, according to Ryan (Bo Burnham), a now successful pediatric surgeon who stops in coincidentally for a cup of coffee. The two begin to date, reluctantly-so on Cassandra’s part, but there’s a sweetness with a refreshing humor that perfectly counterbalances the previously gruesome hook-ups we’ve been witnessing.

There’s a vengeful hatred that emanates from Cassandra’s soul, and while we get a glimpse into why she is setting men up to fail and teaching them a lesson about consent, we don’t get the full picture until midway through the film. And then there’s a visceral and shocking twist that knocks you off your feet as you emotionally attempt to process what has happened. It is at this point that we plunge into an even deeper abyss filled with pain and an inability to change or heal.

This is a horror film but not in the traditional sense. Yes, there’s some occasional cringeworthy gore, but the true horror comes from the reality of the situations in which Cassandra is placed. Writer/director Fennell delicately yet boldly travels down several paths: the emotional trauma of rape; the complicit behavior of others; and the stereotypical responses of the he said-she said scenario. But all of these paths have different nuances to them to make you see things from a novel perspective. A perfect example is when Dean Walker (Connie Britton) is confronted with her decisions from years ago. As she, a woman, is rationalizing and justifying herself, you better understand the reasons for the need for the #MeToo movement.

The writing of “Promising Young Woman” is incredibly smart, intuitive, and well-balanced as we quickly begin to not only understand Cassandra, but root for her whether she’s seeking vengeance or attempting to move on in her life as she finds happiness. Fennell artfully balances drama, tension, and humor into this screenplay but it is the humor that is surprising. The various types of comedy she taps into are brilliant—irony, sweet, charming, and malevolent—all finding just the right place in the script and are executed by each actor perfectly. And this all-star cast comprised of Mulligan, Burnham (“Eighth Grade”),Laverne Cox, Alison Brie, Molly Shannon, and Jennifer Coolidge, contribute their own style and personality to their characters to give a resounding reality to this film.

Each character is obviously aptly cast, but of course, the weight of the film rests on Mulligan’s shoulders who carries it with ease while we see in her eyes, the importance of never forgetting the underlying theme. Her cool, measured, and razor sharp words and physical reactions make her formidable, emphasizing her character’s drive and motivation. And whether or not we agree with her character’s actions, Mulligan’s powerfully nuanced performance establishes a connection with the viewer. We feel her anger, initially, and then understand her pain as she struggles internally with her emotional well-being. Mulligan is transformative in this character as she brings a familiar story to light and hopefully, into future conversations.

With the realistic attributes of the film, the ending, although quite surprising isn’t without a few flaws, but not enough to take you out of the moment. In an era that has raised awareness of consent, sexual harassment, and rape, “Promising Young Woman” goes one step further past awareness to start a conversation of understanding, acknowledgment, and perhaps even change.

3 1/2 Stars

Opening in theaters Dec. 25, 2020

“If you or someone you know has been affected by sexual violence, you are not alone. You can contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800.656.HOPE or online.rainn.org. It’s free, confidential, and available 24/7 in English and Spanish.”

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