This is potentially moving dramatic stuff—or at least bracing melodramatic stuff—but Showalter’s dramatization has a glazed, glassy-eyed surface, like a Pee-wee Herman movie without any of Paul Rubens’ surreptitiously sophisticated kindergarten wit.
The story is almost embarrassingly simple. But the picture slides by pleasantly enough like a stream in a Budd Boetticher movie, a calm place to take off your boots and set a spell as you reflect on the true meaning of manhood, the necessity of overcoming hidden heartache and the pleasures of finally, in your sunset years, succumbing to the love of a good woman.
To call The Lost Daughter an assured debut is to do it a slight disservice—assurance suggests that a filmmaker knows everything going in. What we see in The Lost Daughter is something greater: the act of discovery—of the gifts actors can bring to a story, of how to hold a complex narrative together—in progress.
Stewart gives her all, as she always does. But she plays Diana as a mannered doe—all wrong, given that does are the most unmannered creatures on Earth. Her performance is clearly stylized, but it’s also packed with calculation and guile. Larraín turns this Diana into exactly the thing the royal family accused the real-life Diana of being, a willful and pouty constant complainer.
The Card Counter, with Isaac’s superb performance at its heart, might be the movie you didn’t know you were wishing for, coming at a time when wishing for life to restart has become a consuming preoccupation.
Candyman is a work held together by thoughtful choices, and it has a lot to say. Genre conventions are themselves like urban legends, a framework that each new generation adds to and builds upon. Candyman is just one reason we continue to believe in them.
There is no sadder genre than the tedious thriller, a movie that works hard to entice us with suspense, rough and tumble action, maybe even alluring locales, only to fizzle out far from the finish line.
Free Guy is a little like Ready Player One jumbled with The Truman Show, with some Sleeping Beauty and The Velveteen Rabbit mixed in. It is, admittedly, a lot of movie, probably too much. But Reynolds makes the most of Guy’s elation at finally busting out.
Respect honors the utilitarian nature of songwriting, and of making art in general. But the movie honors subtler elements of Franklin’s nature, too—as much as we can know of it—most notably her guardedness, born of necessity.
The story becomes unpleasantly bitter and asks us to buy certain behaviors that don’t make much sense, and that we’re not quite sure a character would be capable of. Yet even after the movie makes that sharp zigzag, its one constant is Damon, who’s turning out to be one of those great, casual American actors we didn’t know we had anymore.