Movie Review Round-Up: The New Releases
If you're brave - and bored - enough to venture out, the Jennifer Lawrence thriller Red Sparrow, caper Game Night and the Oscar-nominated A Fantastic Woman are all opening in cinemas.
A Fantastic Woman ****1/2
Actress Daniela Vega, who plays the transgender protagonist Mariana Vidal here, makes no secret of her admiration for the films of Pedro Almodóvar and there is certainly shared territory between Chilean director Sebastián Lelio's Oscar-tipped film and the work of the eminent Spanish auteur.
This is definitely one of the strongest, most affecting films that you will see this year in any language. Read our full review here.
Game Night ***1/2
Comedy stalwart Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams team up as a quiz and board game-loving couple in this knockabout comedy which pivots on one of the more intriguing cinematic hybrids of recent years. If you can imagine Horrible Bosses meets Manhattan Murder Mystery meets Hart to Hart then you're close to this mash-up.
It is great fun with a cast featuring Sharon Horgan as the super smart Sarah, the reluctant date to the nice but heroically dim Ryan (Billy Magnussen); and the great Jesse Plemons as a deeply creepy neighbour, who just wants to be included in the fun. Read our full review here.
Red Sparrow ***
Jennifer Lawrence starring as a prima ballerina turned Russian spy will hook you in, but all of the slick action and espionage doesn't quite equate to a must-see thriller, with Red Sparrow weaker than the sum of its parts.
The story is there, the pacing is spot on and the film looks great – director Francis Lawrence creates a richly dark world on screen, with the cinematography frame-perfect and fluid – but it doesn't ever reach its potential and is about 30 minutes too long. Read our full review here.
Lady Bird *****
On the surface, Lady Bird may seem like it's all been done before. Here we have Christine 'Lady Bird' McPherson, a precocious teenage girl growing up in California in 2002 with a sharp tongue and big dreams. She hangs out with her dorky and loveable best friend, tries to impress the resident high school mean girl, experiments romantically with sweet boys and unsuitable cool guys . . .
Throw in a fraught build-up to prom night, a school play, and choir practice and Greta Gerwig's second film as a director could be a John Hughes' teen flick with a degree in Eng. Lit. . . . Read our full review here.
I, Tonya ****
Based on "irony free, wilfully contradictory and totally true interviews", I, Tonya chronicles the rise and fall of figure skater Tonya Harding (an excellent Margot Robbie).
She went from being a relative unknown outside her chosen sport to overnight global hate figure following the 1994 attack on skating rival Nancy Kerrigan, which was 'masterminded' by her on-again, off-again ex-husband Jeff Gillooly (Sebastian Stan).
This caustic character study and skewed sports film doubles down on career-defining performances: along with Robbie we get Allison Janney in flamethrower form as Harding's mother LaVona. Read our full review here.