It is a witty, intriguing film in many ways ... But I also feel the film is unsure of how much to disturb its audience, unsure whether to pursue the chaos and embarrassment of a bungled, noir-ish crime and an unsightly psychological disorder, or to contrive something more emollient: to finesse some sympathy and even heroism for the story’s troubled female lead.
The result falls somewhere between a slave-escape drama, an action thriller, a western and even an unexpected kind of superhero film. It’s a winning combination, although Lemmons does not immerse us in the agony and injustice of slavery as such; she puts together a well-crafted movie that is the showcase for an excellent performance from Erivo.
The plots are rickety and the characterisation has the depth of a Franklin Mint plate, but there are some funny moments and Kevin Doyle, playing the overexcitable servant Molesley, pretty much steals the entire film.
Like the first film, it becomes a virtual non-narrative anthology of standard jump-scares that could be reshuffled and shown in any order. The second time around, your tolerance for this is tested to destruction and beyond because, unlike the first movie, it is just so pointlessly long.
It’s a very forthright performance from Dern, but Stewart is simply too opaque and subdued in the role of Knoop. The film itself pulls its punches, unwilling to satirise either her or the egregious Albert too fiercely; it is inhibited about really attacking the vanity of the situation.
Screenwriter Mark Bomback has adapted the three-hankie property from author and movie producer Garth Stein, and Simon Curtis directs. They have created a film aimed with lethal efficiency at your tear ducts like Chuck Norris putting his boot into your kidneys.
Some enjoyable stuff, although a slightly weird deployment of Jim Croce’s bittersweet song Time in a Bottle at the film’s beginning and end – perhaps inspired by its use for Quicksilver’s slo-mo scene in X-Men: Days of Future Past.
The drama – featuring the kind of flat, chirruping upper-middle-class English accents that aren’t usually voiced on screen – is intriguing and uncompromisingly high-minded, right on the laugh-with/laugh-at borderline, but interestingly unafraid of mockery.