Esther McCarthy reviews 1917 and Seberg
Seberg (15A) ***
Kristen Stewart plays the free-spirited US actress Jean Seberg, who became a huge star of French new-wave cinema, during a torrid part of her life. It’s a great story, clumsily told.
At the height of her fame, the star, who had always donated civil rights causes, endorsed the equality movement for black people in late 1960s America.
That was enough to invite the scorn of some, but when Seberg doubled down and backed the notorious Black Panthers, it put her firmly on the radar of the FBI’s Cointelpro investigation, aimed at discrediting such political organisations and their supporters. Their efforts to ‘neutralise’ her had a devastating impact on her life.
Ultimately, though, it’s a movie that is saved by its cast, and one that doesn’t propel itself enough or build up the tension that this jittery real-life espionage thriller deserves.
1917 (15A) ****
A WAR MOVIE that is scant on plot but high on action, 1917 is a smart and unmissable blend of conflict film, thriller and commentary on the horrors of war.
Much like 2015’s Birdman, the movie cleverly uses long takes and tracking shots, savvy editing and general movie trickery to make the entire film feel like a one-shot story, all filmed in one take. The idea is to make audiences feel completely immersed in the events of the film, which play out in a form of real time.
Director Sam Mendes does so with the help and genius of legendary cinematographer, Roger Deakins, who must surely be a shoo-in for the Oscar next month for his work here.
But Mendes’ film never feels gimmicky and finds real humanity in its alternative, fresh take on the costs of war.
Often known as one of the most brutal and pointless of wars, WW1 sees two young soldiers, Blake (Chapman) and Schofield (MacKay) being given a seemingly impossible mission.
The young soldiers are tasked with crossing the German front in broad daylight, to deliver a warning to abort the mission and save the lives of 1,600 soldiers, one of who is one of the duo’s brother. A huge cinematic achievement that bring home the fear and chaos of the frontline.