CINEMA / The Hawk that refused to take off

'SOMEBODY'S husband, somebody's son' was how the police chief hunting the Yorkshire Ripper described his quarry. The phrase - an attempt to put a human face on inhuman acts - was the title of Gordon Burn's account of the Ripper, and now inspires a new British thriller, The Hawk (15).

The film opens with a woman getting out of her broken- down car to phone for help. The next time we see her, she's a body under a police blanket, gouged and mutilated by the Hawk - 'Does what the bird does: plucks out the eyes,' explains a cop. But the film is not about the killer, or his victims (this is the only one we see), but his wife. I Married a Serial Killer could have been the title.

Helen Mirren plays the wife - she's now married to the Prime Suspect. The shadow of Peter Sutcliffe, the real-life Ripper, hangs over her as it does over the whole film. Like Sonia Sutcliffe, Mirren's Annie Marsh seems socially a cut above her working-class husband, Stephen (George Costigan).

Haggard and distracted, she lives in a different world, a stranger to the blokeish humour Stephen shares with his leering brother (Christopher Madin). We see him take her to his sleazy local for the first time, and it's only after she recognises a young prostitute from there, pictured as the Hawk's latest victim, that she suspects. As she leafs through a diary, piecing together Stephen's movements, a sound-montage of news reports, mixed in with his incriminating comments, mimics her mind's scramble to accusation.

Mirren has such a commanding presence that it's hard to believe in her as a victim. Even mussing her hair up into frowsy curls, for a night out, she seems to have an infinite variety; and her metropolitan allure, like her Southern accent, can't help glinting beneath the grime. Director David Hayman does his best by constantly shooting her behind bars - bannister rails or the slats of the kitchen blinds - but you can't see what's keeping her from walking out (or why she ever walked in). Though a flickering sexual attraction is hinted at, the real reason for her inaction is a history of mental illness: an unconvincing cop-out, as she looks more like a psychiatrist than a patient.

The film doesn't delve into Stephen's psychopathology. In the pub, we glimpse the macho aggression of his natural habitat, as he listens to jokes about Pakistanis and vomits over the table. Like Peter Sutcliffe, he may be killing out of sublimated hatred for his wife - his victims, like Annie, are mothers of two. Though the film is Annie's, we could have done with a little more of the sexist culture imprisoning her, the sense of language itself being steeped in misogyny that there was in Blake Morrison's Ballad of the Yorkshire Ripper. But the film tackles its subject intelligently, without the sensationalism of The Silence of the Lambs, or the glib black humour of Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer. It aims to do more than just entertain. It's not a failure, but it doesn't quite soar.

Alain Resnais' 1961 Last Year in Marienbad (U) is re- released to wish the Everyman Cinema, Hampstead, a happy, if rather recherche 60th birthday. Resnais and his screen- writer, Alain Robbe-Grillet, rejected traditional linear film form, with its weary causality, for something more fluid; the images - taken from memory and imagination as well as reality - flow together like a dream's. A stranger (Giorgio Albertazzi) wanders through the baroque opulence of a huge hotel. From among the guests, all standing like cardboard cut- outs in formal evening attire, he is drawn to a beautiful young woman (Delphine Seyrig). He seeks to rescue her from this time-deserted palace by offering her a past, and a future - by claiming to have had an affair with her last year, now to be resumed. The more the woman is drawn into his reality, the less we're sure that it's fantasy.

This is the plot, but you'd be advised not to follow it: that way, Robbe-Grillet admitted in the text, lies confusion, if not incomprehension. It's more rewarding to treat the film as a poem, drinking in the icily majestic images, and realising that wherever Resnais' endless tracking shots are leading, it's not towards meaning. You may feel, by the end, that this portrait of a present weighed down by the past is perversely uncinematic. Resnais' obsession with memory was most effective in the Auschwitz of Nuit et Bruillard, where it felt natural that life should be halted in history's tracks. Here, deprived even of the human warmth of Hiroshima, Mon Amour, it feels sterile, leaving us as mesmerised by its boredom as its beauty.

Also at the Everyman, before touring the regions, is Tale of the Fox (U), by a neglected master of animation, the Pole Wladyslaw Starewicz (1882- 1965). The film was shot in 1930-31, but was being prepared for 10 years before. Starewicz's puppetry brings to life not only the wily fox but also the whole animal kingdom, from the lion king, in his brocaded tunic, down. The compositions are clean and startling, often verging on chiaroscuro, and no detail is spared: when the fox looks down a well, we get a shot of him from below, silhouetted against the sky - a day's work, perhaps, for a glorious grace note. With its cranky humour and meticulous stop-motion, this film is an ancestor of Tim Burton's The Nightmare before Christmas, just out in America. Though Starewicz cocks a snook at Disney, he is not free of sentimentality. It's chiefly a mechanical triumph.

Which is more than can be said of the grim road movie Bound and Gagged (18), in which a woman kidnapped by her lesbian ex-lover is driven, sometimes stuffed in the boot, by her suicidal ex-husband to a therapist. Half an hour in, I realised it was a comedy; the last hour still didn't raise a laugh.

Cinema details: Review, page 106

(Photograph omitted)

Arts and Entertainment
Chloe-Jasmine Whicello impressed the judges and the audience at Wembley Arena with a sultry performance
TVReview: Who'd have known Simon was such a Roger Rabbit fan?
News
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Frost will star in the Doctor Who 2014 Christmas special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
TV
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Maisie Williams plays 'bad ass' Arya Stark in Game of Thrones

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Meera Syal was a member of the team that created Goodness Gracious Me

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The former Doctor Who actor is to play a vicar is search of a wife

film
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jack Huston is the new Ben-Hur

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne modelling

film
Arts and Entertainment
Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel are bringing Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street to the London Coliseum

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape

Robin Thicke admits he didn't write 'Blurred Lines'

music
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)

film
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

Review: Cilla, ITV TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Hardy stars with Cillian Murphy in Peaky Blinders II

TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

    Not That Kind of Girl:

    A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

    In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

    Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
    Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

    Model mother

    Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
    Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

    Apple still the coolest brand

    Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments