Esther McCarthy reviews Money Monster and Love & Friendship
Resident movie critic on the Moncrieff Show, Esther McCarthy, offers her thoughts on this week's big releases...
Love & Friendship (G) ****
Filmed on location in Ireland, with venues like Newbridge House doubling for UK period locations, the movie features terrific performances from Kate Beckinsale and Tom Bennett.
Beckinsale is perfect as Lady Susan Vernon, the conniving widow who hasn't let bereavement prevent her social climbing.
Glamorous but down on her luck, she visits the estate of her in-laws. While there, she schemes to find herself a new husband.
Her manipulation doesn't stop at her own love life - Lady Susan is also keen to match up her daughter Frederica (Morfydd Clark) with the wealthy but dim Sir James Martin (a terrific Tom Bennett).
Bennett will be getting every comic script being developed on the back of his timing as the socially awkward Martin in this, while Beckinsale is delightfully wicked (and somehow remains likeable) as the devious heart and soul of the film.
Money Monster (15A) ***
George Clooney is Lee Gates, a flamboyant money expert whose over-the-top TV show has made him a star. He colourfully doles out advice on investments to the man on the street - and when one of those men loses his entire savings, he pays Gates a visit.
Kyle Budwell (Jack O’Connell) is a blue collar worker who, on Gates’ advice, gambled his entire inheritance on high tech stock that tanked overnight. Armed with a gun and a bomb, he sneaks on set and takes Gates and his entire production crew hostage, insisting that the drama continue to be broadcast live on air.
He must try to buy time while getting Kyle the answers he insists on from company boss Walt Camby (Dominic West) all the while being buffered by the company’s corporate PR woman (Caitriona Balfe).
Think Phone Booth in a studio - but not as good. While Joel Schmacher’s hostage thriller had all kinds of interesting things to say about greed and human nature, Money Monster suffers from too many daft plot details and twists to really resonate.
So all the lofty messages about a rigged and corrupt financial system don’t ring true, but on the plus side, the darkly funny script delivers.