Film: Also showing: The worm turns

EYE FOR AN EYE John Schlesinger (18) A MONTH BY THE LAKE John Irvin (PG) MAN OF THE YEAR Dirk Shafer (15) MABOROSI Kore-eda Hirokazu (nc) GLASTONBURY THE MOVIE Robin Mahoney / Matthew Salkeld / William Beaton (15)

"What do you do when justice fails you?" screams the poster for the new film by John Schlesinger. The smugly unequivocal rejoinder is delivered by the film's title, Eye for an Eye. Sally Field, you may be surprised to learn, is the Old Testament-style executioner in this simplistic story of a worm who turns. The movie shares its premise and blood-lust with Death Wish, and Field is its Charles Bronson: an unassuming nobody who becomes defined and empowered by a quest for retribution.

She plays Karen McCann, a neurotic mother whose teenage daughter is raped and murdered at the family home. Karen is in the middle of a telephone call to the girl when the attacker breaks in: wedged in a traffic jam, she is powerless to do anything but listen, paralysed, to her daughter's tortured cries. The fact that this grim trick has been lifted from Mad Max should immediately alert you to Eye for an Eye's exploitative bent.

But the film-makers still aren't convinced that this ordeal will prove sufficiently horrendous, so the atrocity is embroidered with details of excessive emotional sadism. For instance, the girl wouldn't have been attacked had she not skipped school to organise her kid sister's birthday party, one of those acts of desperate selflessness which, in movies, can only ever result in violent death. Later in the film, a woman is bludgeoned after leaving her door ajar as she fusses around for the delivery man's tip - another act of generosity rewarded with violence. You wait to discover that these victims spent every spare hour working for Meals on Wheels, or only had one kidney.

Soon, the killer is caught. But Robert Doob (Kiefer Sutherland) is lucky enough to be up against an inept prosecution, and despite being positively identified by blood samples, he is quickly released on a technicality. Which is when Karen decides that the only way to get something done is to do it yourself.

Field is convincingly jittery, but hers is a one-size-fits-all neurosis, and it's hard to discern any differences in shading between her worrying about the delivery of an ice sculpture, and fretting when Doob ingratiates himself with her remaining daughter. Field has a single dynamic scene, making aggressive love with her husband (Ed Harris) after her first clandestine visit to a shooting range, when merely entertaining the notion of violence has jump-started her libido, like Michael Caine in A Shock to the System. But Schlesinger's airless direction forbids any ambiguity, so that the movie seems to exist for no other reason than to blow a raspberry at Dead Man Walking.

It's really too much that Sutherland, with his greased hair and penetrative white-trash leer, resembles Sean Penn from Tim Robbins's film. This killer, however, gets to meet death without redemption, defaming Field's daughter even as he is about to bite the bullet. Which is Schlesinger's way of saying that some people are good, while others are irredeemably evil. As a moralist, he's a real loser. But as a film-maker, he's emerged a winner.

In the calm before the storm that will be the Second World War, a vivacious spinster named Miss Bentley (Vanessa Redgrave) is spending A Month by the Lake - Lake Como, that is, its whispering waters standing patiently beyond the breakfast patio where Miss Bentley will first flirt with the buffoonish Major Wilshaw (Edward Fox). He is enticed by her, though he sulks like an infant when this gangling daddy-longlegs of a woman thrashes him on the tennis court.

But their affections remain agonisingly muted, at least until the emergence of other parties: Vittorio (Allesandro Gassman), a comely young blade who notices that Miss Bentley's body is as brisk as her mind; and the American nanny Miss Beaumont (Uma Thurman), who leads the Major a demeaning dance.

John Irvin shoots his film of HE Bates's novella very plainly, resisting the temptation to linger over the scenery and instead focusing on the majesty of his actors. He has elicited tremendous musicality from them, especially Redgrave, who is ripe and rich with energy. When she speaks, she plunges into her words, thrusting her body forward, and surrendering silly bobs of the head, and absent-minded twirls. It's a boundlessly sensual performance, daring, feral, almost foolish. The scene where she rebuffs Vittorio may be one of the most startling in her career, a collision of obstinacy and capriciousness, revealing a delight in her own sexual power but a defiant refusal to be flattered by others' reactions to it. Have a cold shower prepared for when the picture is over.

Man of the Year is a movie about deception and performance. It is, in itself, deceitful. Its writer and director, Dirk Shafer, is also its subject, a Playgirl hunk picked to be the magazine's "Man of the Year". Shafer is paraded on TV chat shows, distinguished from the rest of the scene's baby-oiled, be-thonged meat-heads by his comparatively sharp wit. And by a secret that demands guile: he's gay.

Shafer creates an uneasy, disingenuous stew of fact and fiction, in which real participants in the story play themselves alongside actors, the whole piece tied together by a knowing script. The film pretends to explore the struggle between Shafer's professional and personal sexualities. But this theme is handled with far less dexterity than the disparities between art and life. As with In Bed with Madonna, you're never sure when you're being duped. It's refreshing to be wrong-footed, though you're unwilling to succumb when the film finally comes calling for sympathy.

Maborosi is a journey into the grief and guilt of a young mother (Esumi Makiko) whose husband (Asano Tadanobu) is killed by a train in an accident later revealed to have been suicide. Her search for peace and comprehension is detailed in sumptuous, near-static imagery. First-time director Kore-eda Hirokazu has created a pensive study of inner disquiet that is moving, lyrical but far too long.

In a Glastonbury-less year, Glastonbury the Movie, culled from six years of footage, will delight die-hards. For everyone else it's a disappointingly pedestrian affair, capturing scratchy performances from the likes of the Lemonheads and Omar, but none of the festival's dopey magic. One thing fits: it seems to last for three days.

n All films on general release from tomorrow

RYAN GILBEY

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Novelist Martin Amis at The Times Cheltenham Literature Festival

books
Arts and Entertainment
Alfred Molina, left, and John Lithgow in a scene from 'Love Is Strange'

After giving gay film R-rating despite no sex or violence

film
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Williams will be given a 'meaningful remembrance' at the Emmy Awards

film
Arts and Entertainment

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Arctic Monkeys headline this year's Reading and Leeds festivals, but there's a whole host of other bands to check out too
music
Arts and Entertainment
Blue singer Simon Webbe will be confirmed for Strictly Come Dancing

tv
Arts and Entertainment
'The Great British Bake Off' showcases food at its most sumptuous
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Cliff Richard performs at the Ziggo Dome in Amsterdam on 17 May 2014

music
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Educating the East End returns to Channel 4 this autumn

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch will voice Shere Khan in Andy Serkis' movie take on The Jungle Book

film
Arts and Entertainment
DJ Calvin Harris performs at the iHeartRadio Music Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
The eyes have it: Kate Bush

music
Arts and Entertainment
From left to right: Mark Crown, DJ Locksmith and Amir Amor of Rudimental performing on stage during day one of the Wireless Festival at Perry Park, Birmingham

music
Arts and Entertainment

books
Arts and Entertainment
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014

Edinburgh
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Capaldi and Chris Addison star in political comedy The Thick of IT

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Judy Murray said she

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014

edinburgh
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Paxman has admitted he is a 'one-nation Tory' and complained that Newsnight is made by idealistic '13-year-olds' who foolishly think they can 'change the world'.

Edinburgh
Arts and Entertainment
Seoul singer G-Dragon could lead the invasion as South Korea has its sights set on Western markets
music
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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.

    All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

    Robert Fisk: All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

    Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise
    Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

    Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

    So claims an EU report which points to the Italian Mob’s alleged grip on everything from public works to property
    Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

    Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

    Once the poor relation, the awards show now has the top stars and boasts the best drama
    What happens to African migrants once they land in Italy during the summer?

    What happens to migrants once they land in Italy?

    Memphis Barker follows their trail through southern Europe
    French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

    French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

    The ugly causeway is being dismantled, an elegant connection erected in its place. So everyone’s happy, right?
    Frank Mugisha: Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked

    Frank Mugisha: 'Coming out was a gradual process '

    Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked
    Radio 1 to hire 'YouTube-famous' vloggers to broadcast online

    Radio 1’s new top ten

    The ‘vloggers’ signed up to find twentysomething audience
    David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

    David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

    A blistering attack on US influence on British television has lifted the savvy head of Channel 4 out of the shadows
    Florence Knight's perfect picnic: Make the most of summer's last Bank Holiday weekend

    Florence Knight's perfect picnic

    Polpetto's head chef shares her favourite recipes from Iced Earl Grey tea to baked peaches, mascarpone & brown sugar meringues...
    Horst P Horst: The fashion photography genius who inspired Madonna comes to the V&A

    Horst P Horst comes to the V&A

    The London's museum has delved into its archives to stage a far-reaching retrospective celebrating the photographer's six decades of creativity
    Mark Hix recipes: Try our chef's summery soups for a real seasonal refresher

    Mark Hix's summery soups

    Soup isn’t just about comforting broths and steaming hot bowls...
    Tim Sherwood column: 'It started as a three-horse race but turned into the Grand National'

    Tim Sherwood column

    I would have taken the Crystal Palace job if I’d been offered it soon after my interview... but the whole process dragged on so I had to pull out
    Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

    Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

    Eden Hazard admits he is still below the level of Ronaldo and Messi but, after a breakthrough season, is ready to thrill Chelsea’s fans
    Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

    Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

    The Everton and US goalkeeper was such a star at the World Cup that the President phoned to congratulate him... not that he knows what the fuss is all about
    Match of the Day at 50: Show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition

    Tom Peck on Match of the Day at 50

    The show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition