Film Reviews by RhysH

Welcome to RhysH's film reviews page. RhysH has written 71 reviews and rated 220 films.

Write your review

100 characters remaining
4000 characters remaining

See our review guidelines and terms.

The Child

A child of our times.

(Edit) 24/04/2017

Two harrowing scenes at the centre of this film, Bruno (Jérémie Renier) in a deserted apartment sells his new born child for adoption, in a deserted garage he buys his child back, we see no other person. Renier plays these two scenes with considered understatement, we know his anguish without having it thrust at us. It is an outstanding performance, met entirely by Deborah François as the mother of the child, Sonia. The Dardenne brothers always get remarkable performances from their young casts.

On a day out the couple play around with each other in a desperate attempt to recapture the physicality of childhood which mentally they have never left.

The film ends in tears, no sobs, and through the anguish the Dardenne brothers invite you to predict the future, despite all Bruno and Sonia had been through I clutched at a glimmer of hope.

0 out of 0 members found this review helpful.

Write your review

100 characters remaining
4000 characters remaining

See our review guidelines and terms.

Double Indemnity

Dearth of a salesman.

(Edit) 05/04/2017

Walter Neff (Fred MacMurray) or should this be naff, an insurance salesman on a routine car insurance job falls for Phylis Dietrickson (Barbara Stanwyck) or was it just her ankles he fell for? He gets embroiled in a plot to kill her husband and claim "double indemnity" insurance.

This classic film noir has all the right credentials; director Billy Wilder who wrote the script with Raymond Chandler based on the novel by James M Cain. There was something missing, for me, was it the rather wooden performance from the main protagonists or the fact that their passion never really ignited? The secret meetings in a supermarket verged on the farcical.

It's worth watching for Edward G's performance, arm jabbing and pinched eyes.

The cigar lighting running gag is classic.

0 out of 0 members found this review helpful.

Write your review

100 characters remaining
4000 characters remaining

See our review guidelines and terms.

Rosetta

Rosetta in closeup.

(Edit) 05/04/2017

To begin at the ending, although the Dardenne brothers don't really do "The End", this like many of their films just stops. There is no denouement, the symphony stops before the last few climactic bars. Despite the unrelenting gloom of the film the final shot gave me a faint glimmer of hope.

Émile Dequenne as Rosetta gives a magnificent performance, worthy of her best actress award at Cannes 1999. The one time she smiles it almost makes you laugh, such slight relief is pounced upon.

The cinematic style has become classic Dardenne, so up close and personal you can just about smell the eponymous heroine's rubber boots.

3 out of 3 members found this review helpful.

Write your review

100 characters remaining
4000 characters remaining

See our review guidelines and terms.

The Kid with a Bike

A troubled child.

(Edit) 18/03/2017

A very touching story from the Dardenne brothers' catalogue. Cyril a young boy in care searches for his father and his bike, he finds them both but only manages to hold on to one of them.

Cyril is played by Thomas Doret,, a stunning performance, he exudes despair and misery with his whole body. He runs and runs to get away from people to get away from everything, his bike just helps him move away more quickly. The first time he smiles is a revelation, a hint of a brighter future.

Cécile de France as Samantha, who becomes Cyril's foster parent give a beautiful, understated performance, there is a back story here that is not revealed.

The ending is ambiguous but after the smile we have some hope.

2 out of 2 members found this review helpful.

Write your review

100 characters remaining
4000 characters remaining

See our review guidelines and terms.

The Son

Close up to tension.

(Edit) 18/03/2017

The tension throughout the film is palpable but there is no histrionic acting and no musical score to telegraph what you should feel. The story is strong and is revealed bit by bit, adding to the rising tension.

The film is largely shot with hand-held cameras following the main character, Olivier played by Olivier Gourmet. The world is seen not from the point of view of Olivier but us as stalker looking over his shoulder and observing every move and facial tic. This gives the film an air of intimacy verging on voyeurism. Most of the film is shot in this way so that, at times, it becomes rather claustrophobic and one longs for wider shots to put the world of Olivier in perspective.

Olivier Gourmet won the 2002 best actor award at Cannes and deservedly so. It is a performance of slow burning intensity, always on the verge of boiling over but the lid is firmly on.

0 out of 0 members found this review helpful.

Write your review

100 characters remaining
4000 characters remaining

See our review guidelines and terms.

The Big Heat

The heat is high.

(Edit) 23/02/2017

Sometimes in the American gangster film the baddies can be somewhat endearing, the villains you love to hate, not in this Fritz Lang film noir, the baddies are really bad. None badder than Lee Marvin as Vince Stone, his top lip perspires with evil.

The plot is precise and richly written by Sydney Boehm, some great one liners all of them barbed with evil. The most sinister aspect of the plot is the seemingly expendable role of the women, justice is done at the end but at the awful expense of the horrible deaths of the main women characters.

Glen Ford is great as the detective on a mission weighed down by worries and Brylcreem and Gloria Grahame reveals emotional subtlety behind her great looks.

1 out of 1 members found this review helpful.

Write your review

100 characters remaining
4000 characters remaining

See our review guidelines and terms.

The Killers

Long shadows of the past.

(Edit) 14/02/2017

From the opening sonorous chord of the Miklos Rozsa score you know you are in for a film noir treat. Then under the street lights stalk the eponymous killers casting long shadows like extras from Ivan The Terrible. The opening, threatening dialogue in the diner compounds the feeling.

The plot delivered with a series of flashbacks from different points of view reveals double-cross on double-cross.

Burt Lancaster as "The Swede" a boxed out boxer broods all over the film and Ava Gardner as Kitty Collins (such an innocent name) lays down the rules for the femme fatale and looks gorgeous while she does it. When Gardner and Lancaster have their only kiss you can sense the Judas taste.

When one of the villains lies dying on the plush carpeted stairs he asks for a cigarette, he gets one, and the detective gives him a light by striking the match on the sole of his shoe. Now that's style.

4 out of 4 members found this review helpful.

Write your review

100 characters remaining
4000 characters remaining

See our review guidelines and terms.

In a Lonely Place

Bogart plays Bogart

(Edit) 30/01/2017

This is the finest example of Bogart playing Bogart. I note he was the producer of the film so was able to set up the perfect Bogart masterclass. He gets some great brooding scenes, some full blown scenes of anger and, of course, some witty and vitriolic one liners. Nobody smokes like Bogart complete with the picking of the stray bits of tobacco from the tongue.

The plot is quite slight, Bogart plays Dixon Steele, screenwriter and main suspect in a murder. The main investigating detective never leaves his office and the other detective invites Steele around for dinner where Bogart gives a hypnotic performance of how the murder might have been committed. The main witness for Steele's defence is Laurel Gray who lives in the apartment opposite, wonderful cantilevered support from Gloria Grahame. The two fall in love and this, of course unlocks the writer's block. There is a genuine rapport of love between the two.

And oh, the hair. The women look as if their perms have been sculptured out of marble. Even after a restless night Gloria Grahame emerges in beautiful array, make up and hair intact.

A great 1950s movie.

4 out of 4 members found this review helpful.

Write your review

100 characters remaining
4000 characters remaining

See our review guidelines and terms.

Café Society

Frocks and cars.

(Edit) 30/01/2017

It looks good, it sounds good but there is really little more in this rather vacuous movie. It has all the Hollywood clichés; the powerful man on the phone, simpering women, I can't leave my wife, dump the body in concrete, how to succeed without really trying etc. Maybe Woody Allen who is known to dislike the Hollywood system was using cliché as ironic satire.

If you're directing a film and you are now to old to play the lead why not get your leading man to mimic every Woody Allen mannerism, both physical and vocal. Jesse Eisenberg does this really well.

The frocks and the cars are great.

1 out of 2 members found this review helpful.

Write your review

100 characters remaining
4000 characters remaining

See our review guidelines and terms.

Out of the Past

A trenchcoat of a film.

(Edit) 14/01/2017

It is probably de rigueur to state that this is film noir and it is one of the films that sets the standard and to some extent lays out the rules of the genre. This is the film that made Robert Mitchum, maybe the word wasn't in use, in this context, in 1947 but he is the epitome of "cool". His facial expression never changes whether his life is in danger or he is about to kiss the femme fatale and his vocal register remains on one level. It is a masterclass in non-acting acting. Jane Greer's performance is also understated, it exudes eroticism without even trying. The plot is complicated but following it is not necessary to enjoy the film, the dialogue by Daniel Mainwaring (aka novelist Geoffrey Holmes) crackles along with some great exchanges. At one point, I forget the details, he says to her something like "you're quite small" and she replies "I'm bigger than Napoleon." Great stuff.

3 out of 3 members found this review helpful.

Write your review

100 characters remaining
4000 characters remaining

See our review guidelines and terms.

Laura

Laura, a class act.

(Edit) 14/01/2017

Another in the film noir genre that could give you lung cancer just by watching. Everybody smokes, and how come they always find an ashtray when they flick their cigarettes away? Dana Andrews plays the trench coat detective who seems to work entirely on his own apart from the phone tapper in the basement and the guy on the door. He falls for the victim of murder who is not a victim (almost a spoiler) via her portrait. This is Laura of the title played by Gene Tierney who looks gorgeous in some classy outfits and very silly hats. (Vincent Price looks like he might be set to be typecast as the male dumb blonde.) The sets too, are gorgeous, it's maybe why you went to the cinema in 1944, to see how the other half lived and loved, and killed. There are some definitive lessons from Otto Preminger for modern directors. Yes, a single shot can last longer than three seconds, there can be passages in which there is no dialogue and the camera just lingers, and a murder/detective story can be effective with little noise, three or four punches and one gunshot.

5 out of 7 members found this review helpful.
12345