List Film

Reviews & features: Drama

Adult World

15 Jul 20143 stars

John Cusack, Emma Roberts and Evan Peters star in this appealing porn industry dramedy

Ignore the tacky cover art that suggests John Cusack is Emma Roberts' favourite customer at a pole dancing club, the film contained within is a far more appealing comedy drama set on the fringes of the porn industry. In a bid for independence aspiring…

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

14 Jul 20144 stars

The simian sci-fi sequel proves you can marry visual spectacle with heart and intelligence

Complexity is something that’s all too rare in modern blockbusters but Matt Reeves’ Dawn of the Planet of the Apes – like Rupert Wyatt’s Rise – proves you can marry visual spectacle with something to engage the heart and the head too. Thought-provoking…

Boyhood

8 Jul 20144 stars

Triumphant experimental film offering a unique cinematic one-off, despite lengthy running time

Patience is the name of the game for writer and director Richard Linklater. Fresh from charting the romantic ups and down of Celine and Jessie over two decades in his Before Sunrise, Before Sunset and Before Midnight trilogy, he unveils another long…

The Invisible Life

8 Jul 20142 stars

A sluggish effort from Portuguese director Goncalves, returning to filmmaking after almost 30 years

Portuguese director Vitor Gonçalves was much-celebrated for his 1986 debut A Girl in Summer, but has taken until now to follow it up – with a piece that’s sadly unlikely to put him back on the map. With awkwardly theatrical acting, zero expositional…

Begin Again

8 Jul 20144 stars

Equally sweet and endearing quasi-sequel to Once starring Keira Knightley and Mark Ruffalo

How do you follow an Oscar-winning charmer like Once? It hasn't been easy for director John Carney. Did anyone see the comedy Zonad? He is back on form with Begin Again (originally entitled Can A Song Save Your Life?), a quasi-sequel to Once. Twice…

God Help the Girl looks set to be a gift to Belle and Sebastian fans

8 Jul 2014

Stuart Murdoch's much-anticipated film project stars Emily Browning, Olly Alexander & Hannah Murray

It’s a good summer for Belle and Sebastian fans. Not only is the Glaswegian indie pop group kicking off the Commonwealth Games festivities with a gig in the recently restored Kelvingrove Bandstand (Wed 23 Jul) but the much-anticipated film God Help the…

Journey to the West

3 Jul 20145 stars

An impressive, meditative work by Taiwanese filmmaker Tsai Ming-liang

Tsai Ming-liang’s Journey to the West focuses on a monk (Lee Kang-sheng) who in a vivid red robe moves across, towards, or away from the frame with the smallest of movements. The film is stunningly shot in a series of long, static takes often…

God's Pocket

3 Jul 20144 stars

Mad Men star John Slattery directs this bleak black comedy starring Philip Seymour Hoffman

Mad Men star John Slattery makes his directorial feature debut with this bleak black comedy based on the novel by Pete Dexter, author of The Paperboy. Set in the fictional, blue-collar South Philadelphia neighbourhood of God's Pocket, the film stars…

The Guvnors

24 Jun 20143 stars

Rizzle Kicks' Harley Sylvester delivers an outstanding performance in this gangland face-off

What happens when a firm of ageing ex-hooligans takes on a gang of vicious East London street thugs? That's the premise of writer-director Gabe Turner's violent British thriller, which manages to be tense and involving, providing you can get past the…

Stray Dogs

24 Jun 20144 stars

An angry yet meditative drama from Taiwanese director Tsai-Ming-liang

Stray Dogs explores the theme of stillness in both form and content. Taiwanese director Tsai-Ming-liang casts his regular actor Lee Kang-sheng as a father of two children struggling to make ends meet in Taipei. Standing for hours on end as he holds a…

Castles in the Sky

23 Jun 20142 stars

Eddie Izzard stars in Gillies MacKinnon's hamstrung WWII drama

It's receiving its world premiere at Edinburgh International Film Festival, but this BBC Science commissioned pre-WWII drama feels very limited in cinematic potential by both its budget and its story. Directed by Gillies MacKinnon (Hideous Kinky) and…

Set Fire to the Stars

23 Jun 20143 stars

Elijah Wood and Celyn Jones star in this often overwrought portrayal of Dylan Thomas

Writer-director Andy Goddard has enlisted some world class assistance in creating his debut feature film, an account of Dylan Thomas’ 1950 visit to the United States at the behest of literary academic John Malcolm Brinnin. Cinematographer Chris Seager…

Hellion

23 Jun 20143 stars

Newcomer Josh Wiggins delivers a stellar performance in this delinquent drama

Josh Wiggins makes a startling debut in Kat Candler’s Hellion, bringing to mind the scorching presence of River Phoenix in his portrayal of delinquent youngster Jacob Wilson. When he’s not setting fire to cars or tearing around on his dirtbike, Jacob…

We Gotta Get Out Of This Place

19 Jun 20144 stars

A beautifully shot, well acted and suspenseful teenage noir starring Mackenzie Davis

This feature debut of brothers Zeke and Simon Hawkins sets out its smalltown Texan noir ambitions early, with college-bound teenager Sue (rising star Mackenzie Davis, from That Awkward Moment) pointedly quoting pulp thriller writer Jim Thompson in a…

Welcome to New York

18 Jun 20142 stars

Trashy account of Strauss-Khan assault case says little, despite Jacqueline Bisset and Depardieu

The (dis)-honourable traditions of the film a clef, true-life stories fictionalised for legal reasons in the fashion of Citizen Kane, The Greek Tycoon or Velvet Goldmine, are spottily maintained by Abel Ferrara's torn-from-the-headlines drama Welcome to…

Joe

18 Jun 20144 stars

Nicolas Cage excels in powerful, grimy drama that elevates ordinary story to near-operatic heights

David Gordon Green's biggest hit, urban-stoner comedy Pineapple Express, is very much untypical of the moody, backwater dramas he directs on an annual basis, from George Washington to Prince Avalanche. Joe is another entry in his canon of accomplished…

Palo Alto

18 Jun 20142 stars

Gia Coppola's James Franco adap offers simplistic take on teenage life, despite fine performances

This drifting tale of drifting middle class teens is the filmmaking debut of Gia Coppola, granddaughter of Francis. Adapted from a short story collection by James Franco – who makes an appearance as a sleazy girls’ football coach – it follows…

Camille Claudel 1915

17 Jun 20143 stars

Bruno Dumont's historical biopic is a quiet heartbreaker starring a luminous Juliette Binoche

Camille Claudel spent the last 30 years of her life confined to an asylum near Avignon. Using her medical records and correspondence, Bruno Dumont's sparse drama focuses on a brief period early in her incarceration. It effectively conveys the decades of…

The Fault in Our Stars

17 Jun 20143 stars

Watching the film adaptation of John Green's terminal love story will require tissues, or a bucket

A story about first love in the face of certain death, The Fault in Our Stars is based on the novel by John Green. At the centre is a hugely affecting performance from Shailene Woodley – who is shaping up to be something of a star herself. Josh Boone's…

Of Horses and Men

17 Jun 20143 stars

A series of Icelandic vignettes successfully portraying the interweaving lives of horses and humans

In a succession of vignettes, this Icelandic feature depicts various interactions between horses and humans that highlight both the symbiosis and the separation between human and animal lives. The Icelandic title translates literally as ‘The Horse in…

Edinburgh International Film Festival 2014: Is it time for Nicolas Cage's resurgence?

10 Jun 2014

The mercurial actor stars in David Gordon Green's Joe alongside Tye Sheridan

Matthew McConaughey, eh? Who saw that coming? One minute, he’s headlining forgettable romcom dross like Failure to Launch and Fool’s Gold; the next, he’s stealing scenes in intriguing indie projects. A look at his resumé shows a clear line in the sand…

The Dirties

2 Jun 20143 stars

A dark, not-quite-funny indie comedy about two amateur filmmakers planning a school shooting

The line between reality and fiction is ripped apart by Canadian writer-director Matt Johnson in this ramshackle yet inventive first feature, which arrives with the effusive backing of Kevin Smith. The Dirties was shot for just $10,000 with virtually no…

Jimmy’s Hall

27 May 20143 stars

The film Ken Loach has hinted may be his last is a contemplative, tender drama

Ken Loach returns with what may or may not be his final feature film. Either way, Jimmy’s Hall is typical of the 77 year-old director, with its story of a real-life Irish activist, who comes to clash with the authorities. Written again by his prolific…

Run & Jump

20 May 20143 stars

A slightly-too-rose-tinted heartwarmer starring Maxine Peake and Will Forte

This charming, if slight Irish dramedy marks the debut of American director Steph Green, who was Oscar-nominated for her short film New Boy. Working from a script she co-wrote with Ailbhe Keogan, Green fashions a film whose positivity and romance is…

In Secret

20 May 20142 stars

An unimaginative adaptation of Emile Zola's Therese Raquin, starring Oscar Isaac and Elizabeth Olsen

Emile Zola's tale of love and betrayal in Therese Raquin has traditionally been cherished by those without imaginations of their own, making it one of the most overused plot-lines in cinema; this risible film takes inspiration from a play adaptation by…