The powerful Irish film The Meeting, Glenn Close in the Oscar-tipped The Wife and the Kevin Hart and Tiffany Haddish-starring comedy Night School are all opening in cinemas this weekend.

The Meeting ****

Alan Gilsenan's latest film is a tough but very rewarding watch. It tells the story of Ailbhe Griffith, a young Dublin woman who was heading home late at night, and was brutally beaten and sexually assaulted.

Her attacker was caught and sent to prison, but nine years later Ailbhe decided to meet the man who had subjected her to a vicious attack that left her both seriously injured and psychologically scarred.

This is a dramatisation of that meeting, interspersed with graphic images of Ailbhe in the wake of the attack. And what makes this film version of events truly remarkable is the fact that Ailbhe portrays herself. Read our full review here.

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The Wife ****

Glenn Close is a simmering Vesuvius of contained rage in this elegant comedy-drama about deceit, pride and calculated loyalty. She plays Joan Castleman, the steely but gracious wife of man of letters Joseph Castleman, a writer who is that rarest of things - a novelist who is both commercially successful and critically adored.

Joseph (a fusty but conniving Jonathan Pryce) is about to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature. When the couple first hear the news in an early morning phone call from Stockholm to their handsome lakeside home in Connecticut, they bounce up and down on their bed like children in giddy rapture. Theirs certainly looks like a blissfully contented marriage, even after all these years together.  

But all is facade and artifice. Director Björn Runge and screenwriter Jane Anderson (adapting the book by Meg Wolitzer) reveal a story of conceit and the limits of loyalty, layer by stinging layer in what is a superbly paced and blackly humorous film. Read our full review here.

Night School **

In a Hollywood apartment or back office, you really hope someone is right this minute pounding the keys writing the perfect script for Kevin Hart and Tiffany Haddish. A comedy-drama about a thirtysomething couple trying to start a family maybe? A rom-com about two clockwatchers in going-nowhere jobs? Two suggestions; the possibilities are endless.  

Fact is, when it comes to chemistry, Hart and Haddish have more together than a Salter Science set under the Christmas tree back in the day. But Night School turns out to be a lesson in the razor-sharp delivery of blunt material.

This mix of sentiment, slapstick and sauce from Girls Trip director Malcolm D Lee often feels confused - we weren't expecting The Breakfast Club or Stand and Deliver, but it's no Back to School or Old School, either - and Haddish isn't in enough scenes. Read our full review here.

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The Little Stranger ****

The Little Stranger is an alluring thriller that is beguiling right to the very end and is best served if you go in with no set genre in mind - it is not a simple ghost story.

Coming out of the awards whirlwind of Room, which saw Lenny Abrahamson pick up his first Oscar nomination, there is expectation on the director to follow up with something special, and he has as he continues his pattern of selecting projects that are unique and can truly capture an audience.

The Little Stranger sees Domhnall Gleeson take the lead as Faraday, a young doctor who becomes entwined with the once-wealthy Ayres family who reside in Hundreds Hall, a manor house that has enchanted him since childhood. Read our full review here.

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A Simple Favour **1/2

From the outset, A Simple Favour appears to have it all, but by the midway point its overly convoluted plot sends it crashing down into daytime soap territory, and it never recovers.

Stephanie (Anna Kendrick) and Emily (Blake Lively) meet at the school gates when their young sons insist on having a play date together. Stephanie, a mummy vlogger, has no adult friends; and Emily, a PR executive working in the city, doesn't either - but for very different reasons.

Visually, it's all stunning - from the cinematography to the clothes - and the steady pace and sharp script work in the first half, but then A Simple Favour goes off a cliff. From worn-out twists that we've seen countless times before, to over-the-top revelations, all control is lost in the second half, as is patience for the paradigm shift. Read our full review here. 

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John Paul II in Ireland: A Plea for Peace **

You could call it the Pope's butterfly effect. During his visit to Ireland in 1979, Pope John Paul II made a key speech in Drogheda, in which he made this appeal to the warring factions in Northern Ireland: "On my knees I beg you to turn away from the paths of violence and return to the ways of peace."

This is the jump-off point for directors Marc Boudignon and David Naglieri in this short documentary, solemnly narrated by The Passion of the Christ star Jim Caviezel. As Naglieri says, "The thesis is not that the Good Friday Agreement wouldn't have happened if he didn't come, but we're tracing the ripple effects of the Pope's visit."

The Pope had already lived through the evils of Nazism and had done much work in his native Poland against the tyranny of the then-USSR, so he was well used to the kind of forces of evil at large in Ireland by the time he kissed Irish soil in Dublin Airport in September 1979. In the weeks before his visit, Lord Mountbatten had been murdered and 18 British soldiers had lost their lives at Warrenpoint in IRA bomb attacks. Read our full review here. 

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Mile 22 **

Mile 22 is a peculiar beast. Clocking in at just over the 90-minute mark, it's a slickly edited, propulsively paced, shamelessly entertaining action thriller.

But it's maybe just... a bit silly?

It's the fourth collaboration between Mark Wahlberg and director Peter Berg (following Lone Survivor, Deepwater Horizon and Patriots Day), and is their first not based on true events. Wahlberg's character heads up an elite team of undercover CIA agents who literally operate above the law. In fact, before they carry out any mission they sever all connections to the CIA or the government ("They are ghosts," John Malkovich's remote tactical commander helpfully explains). Read our full review here. 

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The House with a Clock in Its Walls **

It has all the appearances of being a family Halloween dream, but director Eli Roth fails to keep The House with a Clock in Its Walls ticking over.

The film tells the story of Lewis, a 10-year-old who goes to live with an uncle he has never met before (Jack Black). The uncle happens to be a warlock and is trying to track down a mysterious magical clock that is on course to turn back the sands of time to ensure human beings never come into existence.

These kinds of adventures thrive on the ability to surprise your audience, or allow them to marvel at the magic in the world of the story, but there just isn't enough originality or wonder here to do either of those things. Read our full review here. 

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