DVD & Blu-ray reviews: From Jennifer Lawrence in The Hunger Games to Keira Knightley in Say When

The central conceit of totalitarianism at the heart of this saga is still a robust one and the ace card remains the remarkable Jennifer Lawrence

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The Independent Culture

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay: Part 1 (12) Francis Lawrence DVD/Blu-ray (123mins)

Katniss Everdeen, “the face of the revolution”, is an understandable sulky chops for most of this turgid slice of dystopia. Katniss’s home district has been wiped out (save for her ginger cat, a clear reference to Alien’s heroine Ripley) by Donald Sutherland’s evil regime, but the heroine seems to be more fixated on drippy Peeta, who is trapped in the capital. The central conceit of totalitarianism and teenage brutalisation at the heart of this saga is still a robust one and the ace card remains the remarkable Jennifer Lawrence (above with Liam Hemsworth), but even she looks like she can’t wait for this all to end. A disappointing, almost action-free third instalment.

**

My Old Lady (12) Israel Horowitz DVD/Blu-ray (107mins)

Kevin Kline hasn’t had a decent role since 1997’s The Ice Storm, so it’s little wonder he sinks his hammy teeth into this intelligently scripted, very theatrical three-hander, starring Kristin Scott Thomas and Maggie Smith. Kline plays an impoverished alcoholic writer who inherits a delightful Paris apartment from his unloving father, only to find he’s inherited the old lady (Smith) who lives there too. She is entitled to stay there through a loophole in French real estate law and her prickly daughter (Scott) loathes Kline’s self-pitying mess on first sight. A clearly heartfelt drama with three impassioned performances.

***

Leviathan (15) Andrey Zvyagintsev DVD/Blu-ray (140mins)

Kolya, a hothead, is losing his property, which his family built, to a corrupt mayor (and Boris Yeltsin lookalike) in Andrey Zvyagintsev ‘s distressing, Job-like tale set in a small Russian coastal town. This bleak story of disintegration is framed like a John Ford Western and is also reminiscent of Turkish director Nuri Bilge Ceylan (Uzak, Once Upon a Time in Anatolia) and his static shots. Leviathan also benefits from a full-bodied performance from Aleksey Serebryakov as Kolya.

****

Set Fire to the Stars (15) Andy Goddard DVD/Blu-ray (97mins)

“I’m a horrible little imp,” maintains a sozzled Dylan Thomas (Celyn Jones) in this flimsy drama about his encounter with John Brinnin (Elijah Wood), an aspiring poet and academic in 1950s New York. The corpulent Welsh poet is on his first book tour of the US and John is his chaperone. They squabble about poetry in between bouts of heavy drinking. The monochrome palette is pleasant and Jones is extremely convincing, but Set Fire to the Stars lacks heft and real insight.

***

Say When (15) Lynn Shelton DVD/Blu-ray (99mins)

Keira Knightley plays a kooky 28-year-old American who hangs out with a gaggle of teenagers (including Chloe Grace Moretz) after friends of her own age turn out to be a humourless drag. It’s as hideous as it sounds ...the less said about Knightley’s wince-inducing “comic” turn the better.

*

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