Talking Movies: Klondike, Mr Harrigan’s Phone and The Princess (Extended)

Spling reviews Klondike, Mr Harrigan’s Phone and The Princess 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 war drama, a mystery horror drama and a documentary.

Starting off with a film now on at the European Film Festival…


A Ukrainian mother-to-be refuses to leave her house even as the nearby village gets captured by armed forces.

Writer-Director: Maryna Er Gorbach

Stars: Oksana Cherkashyna, Sergey Shadrin and Oleg Shcherbina

– Klondike is a haunting dramedy that finds a Ukrainian couple on the verge of becoming a family in an escalating war situation.
– Trying to literally pick up the pieces, their rural home’s wall has been blown wide open to offer a landscape view.
– Awaiting their first child’s arrival, the couple attempt to keep calm and carry on amid the brewing chaos of a Russian invasion.
– There’s a surreal edge to the happenings in this gritty drama, which while war-ravaged, tick over with a “same old, same old” sentiment.
– Hanging onto shots, Klondike gathers a docudrama quality with its no-name cast’s hard features there to anchor the events.
– Through beautiful compositions of an ugly reality, it remains cinematic, adopting a fly-on-the-wall view and allowing the story to unfold at its own pace.
– These moments have a cinematic grandeur, offering a captivating evolution for each scene that contrasts sharply with the tedium of an otherwise mundane day-to-day experience.
– Adopting a naturalistic vantage point, the performances echo the director’s intentions, trying not to draw too much attention as if unaware.
– Klondike has an absurdist undercurrent that harnesses a satirical energy but its harsh conditions make it whimsical rather than amusing.
– There’s a definite cinematic appeal to this dramedy, which while slow-moving, lures you in with its slow-creeping sense of doom.
– Leaning into its independent spirit, Klondike is not as concerned with your entertainment as it is with portraying its own atmospheric morass through its artful mood and haunting futility.

A solid 7 on the splingometer!

Moving on to a film now on Netflix…


Strange things begin to happen in a small town after the elusive billionaire Mr. Harrigan dies.

Writer-Director: John Lee Hancock

Stars: Donald Sutherland, Jaeden Martell and Joe Tippett

– Stephen King is known as a master of horror, an author with many film adaptations to his name.
– The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile… it’s not surprising that another short story has graduated to feature film with Mr Harrigan’s Phone.
– While infused with horror elements, his latest adaptation leans into its mystery drama with a supernatural twist.
– Centred on the unlikely friendship between a billionaire recluse and his young reader, the high contrast at the dawn of the cellphone revolution offers some haunting insights, a timely indictment aimed at the digital takeover’s shakedown of newspapers and journalism.
– Reading a number of classic novels, King handpicks elements from each as discussion points and teaching moments.
– Taking the unassuming lead is It and The Book of Henry’s Jaeden Martell, whose ghostly vibrations match the tone.
– Mr Harrigan’s Phone has an intriguing premise, a good cast, inviting performances and a haunting atmosphere, but unfortunately remains aloof and just out-of-reach.
– The superficial level of storytelling stunts one’s emotional investment in the characters, offering wispy enigma when a deeper connection was required.
– Swathed in mystery around a voice from the grave, this chilling device has potential but lacks suspense in its cool distance.
– Mr Harrigan’s Phone is entertaining and respectable enough to push through but could have been so much more captivating.

A satisfactory 6 on the splingometer!

And finally a documentary on DStv BoxOffice…


Princess Diana’s story is told exclusively through contemporaneous archive creating a bold and immersive narrative of her life and death.

Director: Ed Perkins

– Tributes poured in for the late Queen Elizabeth II whose 70-year reign and gentility make her a hard act to follow for Prince Charles, now King Charles III, who will be crowned in May 2023.
– This together with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s break from the royal family and series such as The Crown and films Spencer, have reignited interest in the British royal family, making the timing of The Princess documentary quite perfect… maybe too perfect.
– This comprehensive documentary from Perkins, which could have been called “The People’s Princess”, covers Diana’s introduction to the media until her funeral.
– Perkins opts to take a step back to allow the extensive archive footage to do the talking instead of an authoritative voiceover.
– The Princess has a seamless and spontaneous feel, giving audiences a chance to relive the life and times of the adored late princess, who went from bashful unknown youth to world-renowned goodwill ambassador.
– The pressure of being a royal in the public eye led to some dramatic shifts, yet through it all Diana somehow managed to preserve her quiet charms, unaffected poise and unassuming beauty.
– Weaving in and out of key interviews between journalists, commentators and the royals themselves, sound bites colour each scene with an emotive score to provide a greater sense of continuity and subtext.
– While comprehensive to overlong, The Princess doesn’t really offer anything revelatory or new to the conversation.
– Offering a seemingly matter-of-fact perspective, this vantage point and the film’s timing does seem rather pointed in raising dormant issues relating to the royal family in a time of flux.
– It’s success is in its succinct storytelling, well-versed condensation of Diana’s royal biography and its fluidity as a lively visual character portrait and nostalgic retrospective.

A solid 7!


So just to wrap up…

KLONDIKE… artful composition, docudrama style and naturalistic performances elevate this slow-moving yet haunting gritty war drama… A solid 7!

MR HARRIGAN’S PHONE… an intriguing premise and a solid cast compel this moody, seething yet cool and distant mystery drama… A satisfactory 6!

THE PRINCESS… a long, yet vivid, immersive and seamlessly edited archive documentary chronicle of Princess Diana’s royal biography… A solid 7!

For more movie reviews and features visit splingmovies.com.

And remember, Don’t WING it, SPL!NG it!