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EVER AFTER (PG)

Director: Andy Tennant

Starring: Drew Barrymore, Anjelica Huston, Dougray Scott

A daddy's girl (Drew Barrymore) is tormented by her beastly stepmother (Anjelica Huston) after her father's death, but finds hope in the arms of a handsome prince. This is Ever After - or, more accurately, Cinderella 90210.

Technically, the movie is a period piece, but the colloquial language and revisionist behaviour cause you to nervously anticipate the introduction of some 16th-century version of rollerblading or shopping malls. The usual pleasures are all present and correct: ruddy-faced peasants, prickly pantomime turns from Huston and Richard O'Brien, coy romance between Barrymore and the Scottish actor Dougray Scott, whose suitably dippy expressions banish all memories of him as a brutal cop in Twin Town.

West End: Odeon Camden Town, Odeon Haymarket, Odeon Kensington, Odeon Marble Arch, Odeon Swiss Cottage, UCI Whiteleys, Virgin Chelsea, Virgin Trocadero, Warner Village West End

A SOLDIER'S DAUGHTER NEVER CRIES (15)

Director: James Ivory

Starring: Kris Kristofferson, Barbara Hershey, Jane Birkin

See The Independent Recommends, right

West End: Curzon Mayfair

TOPLESS WOMEN TALK ABOUT THEIR LIVES (NC)

Director: Harry Sinclair

Starring: Danielle Cormack, Ian Hughes

You don't call a film Topless Women Talk About Their Lives unless you suspect there is nothing very special about it and that it may sink without a trace. And yes, this is yet another independent comedy-drama about modern urbanites - in this case, a pregnant woman musing on the identity of her baby's father, and a misogynistic writer, among others - shot on a meagre budget, and set to a scratchy, indie-pop soundtrack. Does it have anything original to say about the tangle men and women get themselves into when they try to understand each other? Take a wild guess.

West End: NFT

THE TRUMAN SHOW (PG)

Director: Peter Weir

Starring: Jim Carrey, Ed Harris, Laura Linney

The origins of the premise behind The Truman Show are currently being disputed among Hollywood's legal sharks. However, the film's basic idea - about a man (played by Jim Carrey) who discovers that his whole existence has been televised since birth and broadcast to the world - owes a hefty debt to Muriel Spark's first novel, The Comforters, about a woman who finds that she is trapped in a novel about herself.

Like Spark's book, Peter Weir's film uses the idea of conceit to explore existential dread and ideas of authenticity, though its specific setting, in the technologically controlled world of television, neatly taps into a pair of prevalent late-20th-century concerns: a fear that we are being watched even in our most intimate moments, thus eradicating all concept of privacy; and an insatiable hunger for fame.

The film is certainly very funny, which is due more to the cleverness of Andrew Niccol's script rather than its star's presence - Carrey is actually quite heart-rending as an actor, when he smothers his hysteria. But be warned that this is a cold, clinical experience - a movie which explores what an audience wants while, somewhat bravely, refusing to cater for a predetermined appetite.

West End: Barbican Screen, Clapham Picture House, Elephant & Castle Coronet, Empire Leicester Square, Gate Notting Hill, Hammersmith Virgin, Odeon Camden Town, Odeon Kensington, Odeon Marble Arch, Odeon Swiss Cottage, Rio Cinema, Ritzy Cinema, Screen On Baker Street, Screen On the Green, UCI Whiteleys, Virgin Fulham Road, Virgin Trocadero

Ryan Gilbey

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