Part-Two-Of-Three syndrome can be tricky. The poor film often comes off like a not-so-glamourous assistant – the one putting in all the leg-work so that the big finish, when it comes, is devastatingly impressive. However, trilogies like LOTR, Back To The Future, Star Wars and Toy Story have all proven that the middle child can shine in their own right. So can any excuses by made for The Girl Who Played With Fire?
The weight of public expectation can be a heavy burden – it can cripple even the strongest men. In 2006, Noel Clarke wrote and starred in Kidulthood. His gritty portrait of disenfranchised youth culture raised eyebrows and two years later, he wrote, directed and starred in the sequel, Adulthood. The continuation of his emotionally damaged characters was a wake up call to the UK box office, taking an impressive £1.2 million in its opening weekend. Cinemas hurriedly arranged additional screenings and Clarke accepted his newly-minted reputation as the bright young thing of home-grown cinema. There were obvious concerns that he was a one-trick pony. Thankfully not.
If you’re already aware of The Killer Inside Me, chances are you’ll almost certainly know of it as “that film where Casey Affleck beats seven shades of blue out of Jessica Alba’s face.” You don’t have to wait long to find out that you have not been lied to. Indeed, if The Killer Inside Me sets out to make audiences feel uncomfortable, then it is an undeniable success. But does the film have anything else noteworthy to offer us?
A young woman faces a terrifying ordeal in J Blakeson’s accomplished feature directorial debut. The Disappearance Of Alice Creed is an edge of seat thriller that by its simple design – three characters trapped predominantly in one location – could easily have started life on the stage. The film even adopts a classic three act structure, bookmarked by twists that force us to re-evaluate the fragile balance of power.
For a film about the re-writing a political memoir, it’s rather ironic that the screenplay for Roman Polanski’s thriller should be one of its weaknesses. Characters are not fully formed in a script co-written by Polanski and Robert Harris, adapting his novel of the same name. Indeed, they are ciphers in a clunky and contrived plot that builds to a big reveal, which would be risible in less accomplished hands.
The lunatics are taking over the asylum, or that’s what Martin Scorsese’s impeccably crafted psychological thriller would have us believe. But then perception and reality are completely blurred in this 1950s-set mystery, adapted by screenwriter Laeta Kalogridis from the best-seller by Dennis Lehane (Mystic River, Gone Baby Gone). But sadly, for all its style, Shutter Island is a largely predictable and pedestrian yarn, elevated by a superior cast.
For the second time in as many years, Scandinavian cinema comes up trumps with a stylish and invigorating thriller guaranteed to have audiences teetering excitedly on the edge of their seats. In 2009, we were spellbound by the coming of age story Let The Right One In (Lat Den Ratte Komma In), which put a refreshing yet bloodthirsty new spin on the vampire legend. Now director Neils Arden Oplev introduces a memorably unconventional heroine in The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo .
Director Atom Egoyan probes the destructive power of obsession in this English language adaptation of Anne Fontaine’s 2003 film, Nathalie. Shot on location in wintry Toronto, which is almost as cold as some of the characters’ emotions, Chloe charts the journey of sexual re-discovery of a despairing wife whose marriage has been stuck in a rut for years. The method she chooses to reinvigorate her ailing relationship is unorthodox to say the least, unlocking deep-rooted desires that put not only herself but also her entire family in danger.