The most exciting movie about walking since Lord of the Rings, and just as likely to make you cry, is Wild. Reese Witherspoon ups her game with a seriously compelling performance in this follow-up to Dallas Buyers Club from director and man-not-afraid-to-show-emotions Jean-Marc Vallee. Without giving too much away, you’d be forgiven for thinking this one was nothing more than Eat, Pray, Love 2 but give it a chance and it reveals a depth and maturity absent from Julia Roberts’ hit chick-flick. Vallee clearly has a flair for true-life drama and his protagonist Cheryl comes across painfully flawed, relatable and real. Witherspoon’s Oscar nomination was well-deserved and I have a feeling that, had she not already won a statue, she might well have taken home the little man.
TESTAMENT OF YOUTH:
I should begin this review by saying that if you haven’t read famed pacifist Vera Brittain’s tragic, moving memoir of her life during WWI (upon which this film is based) then please do so. The film does a fine job of maintaining a personal humanity amidst the grand poetry of war that is rarely avoided by films tackling military conflict. Alicia Vikander (Ex Machina) and Jon Sno- I’m sorry, Kit Harrington (Game of Thrones), ground Brittain’s story in a believable romance which carries the film and prevents it descending into the realm of maudlin. Those who love romance or period dramas will be right at home here. Think Atonement but, you know, better.
BIG HERO 6:
Whether or not Big Hero 6 quite deserved to triumph in an extremely competitive Animation category at the Oscars is debatable. What is not is that it’s quite impossible to watch this one and not have a great time. An unexpectedly hard-hitting first act, which catches many off-guard with the seriousness of its drama, gives way to a thrilling, funny and unflaggingly optimistic superhero adventure brimming with ideas and introducing the evocative hybrid city San Fransokyo. Parents, get ready to watch this one over and over again. The great thing is, you probably won’t mind.