Movie Diary 1/17/2023

Alice, Darling (Mary Nighy, 2022). Anna Kendrick stars in a moody/minimalist study of a woman in a controlling relationship, which we mostly see from the perspective of her two besties during a getaway week. The film is trying hard, and Kendrick is capable, and it almost seems churlish to point out the stuff that doesn’t come to life.

Emily (Frances O’Connor, 2022). Went to see this at the Palm Springs International Film Festival because I was curious about what O’Connor, an interesting actress, would do with her writing-directing debut. Hmm. The movie is a heavy-breathing goof on the life of Emily Bronte, seen here as a kind of proto-beatnik at odds with sister Charlotte and inspired by bohemian brother Branwell. There’s also an affair with the local pastor – a series of events, in short, to explain the question put to Emily in the film’s opening moments: How did she write a book as “ugly” as Wuthering Heights? The film is patient and exacting with its detail, but mostly comes down to very familiar conclusions about repressive British behavior and the seemingly 21st-century hawtness of its lead actress, Emma Mackey.

R.M.N. (Christian Mungiu, 2022). Mysterious and provocative film from one of Romania’s leading directors, initially slowed a bit by an impassive leading man, but then snapped into focus when we arrive back at his Transylvanian home village (which is not coincidentally when the actress Judith State, whose character manages an industrial bakery, appears). Good old-fashioned bigotry rears its shaggy head, and the movie climaxes in a notable one-unbroken-shot town-hall meeting – a parallel, presumably coincidental, with Radu Jude’s Bad Luck Banging, where the sophisticated urbanites were no less steeped in prejudice than these rural villagers.

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