Dern brings a hungry, manic energy to Albert, a sad and troubled woman who used LeRoy as a vehicle to process her own childhood trauma, while Stewart’s performance is typically interiorised and exacting.
Reygadas has made a career out of a confrontational lyricism, finding poetry in images that could be considered mundane or even ugly – but the film is nearly three hours long. You have to question how much time spent loitering next to the carburettor is actually justified.
There’s comedy in its depiction of the Swedish prime minister as a caricature of even-temperedness, but from its gaudy 70s costuming to its goofy, wobbling tone, everything about this film feels uncomfortably broad.
Hawkins seems beguiled by Manning’s natural charisma, and more interested in the highs and lows of her personal reckoning. These are fascinating in their own right, yet more context might have made this feel like more of a definitive portrait.
There are moments that catch – a cafe date between Tolkien and his future wife (Lily Collins) is one, and a knockout scene with the mother of his closest friend is another – but for the most part this is stolid film-making that lacks the imagination and creativity of its subject.
And Shahrzad, a huge star from the 1960s and 70s who was banished after the revolution, is present as a voice rather than a face in the film, but is no less significant for the fact that she is not seen by the camera.
The film works as a collage of everyday moments that dovetail seamlessly between the sublime and the banal. Indeed in its most mesmerising scenes, the alchemy of duration and focus elevates these moments to something more profound.