DVD and Blue-ray film reviews: Blue Ruin, The Honourable Woman, A Perfect Plan, The Changes

Macon Blair as Dwight in the revenge film Blue Ruin (Blue Ruin press image)

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The Independent Culture

Blue Ruin, (15) Jeremy Saulnier DVD/Blu-ray. 90mins

Dwight bathes in other peoples’ homes, scavenges in bins and sleeps in his rusty blue Pontiac. It’s relatively cosy until the police inform him that the man who murdered his parents has been released from prison. Then he’s on a Death Wish-style mission for revenge. Only Dwight (Macon Blair, above) is a hapless assassin, whose ill-thought-out plans invariably result in injury to himself. It’s a pleasure to see a young film-maker, Jeremy Saulnier, deliver such a tense, droll thriller with an unknown cast and a tiny budget. Blue Ruin has been compared to the Coen brothers, but it hints at Martin Scorsese and John Carpenter, too.

****

The Honourable Woman, (15) Hugo Blick DVD/Blu-ray, 480mins

Stephen Rea’s spy keeps referring to himself as a spy. Should he do that? Rea delivers one of many fine turns  in Hugo Blick’s spiky, tense and moving espionage eight-parter. Maggie Gyllenhaal plays Nessa Stein, an Anglo-Israeli CEO of a former arms company and philanthropist – and former hostage in Gaza – who becomes a pawn in Middle East negotiations. She throws her emotional all at the role, but it’s the understated Rea, Janet McTeer and Lubna Azabal who hold the attention. There were some moans that this thriller is sluggish, but it grips throughout.

*****

A Perfect Plan, (15) Pascal Chaumeil DVD/Blu-ray, 105mins

In the closing bloopers, Diane Kruger pulls away from  a snog with Dany Boon, suggesting that’s quite enough  of that. So much for the chemistry in Pascal Chaumeil’s painful romcom, in which Kruger’s dentist is engaged to a hunk but, because of a curse among females in her family in which their first marriages fail, has to marry some schmuck first. She snags Boon’s goofy travel writer, persuading him to marry her before behaving so badly he has to divorce her. Location scenes in Moscow and Nairobi can’t compensate for the deficiencies here, but Kruger shows comic promise.

**

The Changes, (PG) John Prowse DVD/Blu-ray 250mins

A father complains of a headache before smashing up the telly. In fact, everyone seems to be destroying technology of any kind, while Victoria Williams’s schoolgirl blithely walks through the horror. The BBC’s groundbreaking 1975 adaptation of Peter Dickinson’s bestselling sci-fi trilogy (The Weathermonger, Heartsease, The Devil’s Children) for children is further proof that 1970s Britain was a creepy place and that adults, in general, weren’t to be trusted.

***

Bad Neighbours, (15) Nicholas Stoller DVD/Blu-ray (97mins)

Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne’s marrieds are exhausted in their new home with their newborn baby, and their weariness is exacerbated by their rowdy new fraternity neighbours, led by a cocky Zac Efron (who doesn’t appear to have a comic bone in his buff body) and Dave Franco (funnier). A war of attrition ensues in another puerile comedy from the absurdly unfunny Rogen.

*

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