Spling reviews The Mauritanian, Allen vs. Farrow and I’m Your Woman as broadcast on Talking Movies, Fine Music Radio. Listen to podcast.
Good morning – welcome to Talking Movies, I’m Spling…
This week, we’re talking about a legal drama, a crime drama and a celebrity scandal documentary.
Starting off with a film now on circuit…
A man fights for freedom after being detained and imprisoned without charge by the U.S. Government for years.
Director: Kevin Macdonald
Stars: Tahar Rahim, Jodie Foster and Benedict Cumberbatch
– The Mauritanian is a political and legal drama based on the 2015 memoir ‘Guantanamo Diary’ by Mohamedou Ould Salahi.
– Guantanamo Bay has been covered by Hollywood with an outsider’s perspective on the inhumane interrogation and torture techniques.
– The Mauritanian takes a more intimate approach by journeying with one of the inmates.
– While refreshing, the drama isn’t bold enough to take this vantage point exclusively, framing Rahim with more recognised name actors.
– Foster has been taking on more work as a director in recent years, yet delivers a thoughtful and well-composed performance with a stark change in hair colour.
– Cumberbatch is always a good bet and doesn’t disappoint in an uncharacteristic down-the-line average joe role.
– From imprisonment and torture to testimony, Rahim’s performance is the soul of The Mauritanian, echoing his career-defining turn in French crime drama A Prophet.
– While it seems earnest, there’s a cool distance as if no one truly wants to own this film, making it mostly about the performances and the powerful true story.
– Shot in South Africa, a versatile film location that lends itself to creating multiple international destinations, perhaps this contributed to a debased feeling.
– This vague retelling doesn’t capitalise on the suspense of the interrogation or seesaw on the detainee’s actual or perceived status.
– Downplaying matters may add more integrity as a docudrama but steals away some of the panache and intensity this thriller so desperately needed.
– The lack of connection, makes for a frustrating and disengaged experience, giving one just enough information to follow the trail of breadcrumbs but never really promising the gingerbread house.
– Still, the importance of the revelation and adaptation hold weight as do interactions with the real people behind this despicable true story.
A satisfactory 6 on the splingometer!
Moving on to a documentary now on Showmax…
ALLEN VS. FARROW
An expose of the accusation of sexual abuse against Woody Allen.
Features: Mia Farrow, Fletcher Previn and Dylan O’Sullivan Farrow
– While Allen’s legacy is immense with almost 50 films to his name, he’s been haunted by accusations surrounding inappropriate sexual behaviour with a minor and the scandal around marrying his non-biological daughter.
– As much as he’s denied it, the whispers have lingered turning into a roar as high-profile celebrity figures were called to account during the #MeToo movement.
– The 4-part miniseries takes a comprehensive look at the matter, the history, the fallout, the key players and current narratives.
– Built on several years of research, this intricate documentary is comprised of a wide array of interviews, photographs, audio clips from Allen’s memoirs, home video and archive footage.
– While the series could have been condensed into the space of a two hour feature, it takes its time in unearthing some of the deeper complexities.
– Too young to testify at the time, the case was ultimately dismissed leaving Allen’s long-running, obsessive and sexually inappropriate relationship with Dylan unresolved.
– Unable to secure interviews with Woody Allen, his son Moses or his now wife Soon-Yi, the documentary is lopsided.
– While there’s a strong bias, the testimony and avalanche of evidence is overwhelming, presented in a convincing and irrefutable fashion.
– Questioning celebrity immunity, public personas, the media’s influence, PR campaigns, child testimony and the judicial process, Allen vs. Farrow is a far-reaching and fascinating documentary.
– It’s entertaining and demystifying with enough evidence and media material to have you question your allegiances and raises the divisive debate between personal conduct and art.
A solid 7 on the splingometer!
And finally a film now on Amazon Prime…
I’M YOUR WOMAN
A woman is forced to go on the run after her husband betrays his partners, sending her and her baby on a dangerous journey.
Writer-Director: Julia Hart
Stars: Rachel Brosnahan, Marsha Stephanie Blake and Arinzé Kene
– Brosnahan is fantastic as Mrs Maisel and demonstrates she’s just as versatile in this period crime drama, I’m Your Woman.
– Almost unrecognisable in contrast, she pours herself into this role, comfortable to exist in the hazy ’70s.
– While the production design, make-up and wardrobe set the scene, the characterisation is bland and the storytelling lethargic.
– While it looks the part, has a gentle and comfortable flow much like The Old Man and the Gun, it’s all rather inert and uninvolving.
– I’m Your Woman gently tugs at socio-political and civil rights issues, serves as a well-composed drama but stumbles into suspense and doesn’t really know what to do with itself.
– Underplaying as a thriller and aloof as a drama, one is forced to admire the technical aspects without feeling truly invested.
– While Brosnahan offers a nuanced and compelling lead performance, it’s the kind of role that would have been better served by Emily Blunt.
– It’s a noble effort that’s artful and competent enough to appreciate, yet indistinct and plodding enough to forget.
A satisfactory 6 on the splingometer!
So just to wrap up…
THE MAURITANIAN… solid performances and a powerful true story compel this bland and uninvolving legal drama… A satisfactory 6!
ALLEN VS. FARROW… while comprehensive, entertaining, introspective, convincing and far-reaching, this documentary is lopsided and overlong… A solid 7!
I’M YOUR WOMAN… good composure and fine production values aren’t enough to activate this sleepy and inert crime drama… A satisfactory 6!
For more movie reviews, previous Talking Movies podcasts and upcoming Bingeing with Spling watch parties visit splingmovies.com.
And remember, Don’t WING it, SPL!NG it!