BECOMING JANE (PG)
Becoming Jane is meant to be a film based on Jane Austen's life before she made it as a famous writer. However, as a viewer we see more about her love life and morals rather than getting a more rounded idea of her life as a whole. Jane (Anne Hathaway) is doted on by a number of men, all determined to win her love, but predictably in the scheme of these things she falls for the one with a bad reputation. In these shallow times it should be heart-warming to learn that Jane will not marry for wealth or class but instead only love and passion; unfortunately it feels contrived.
However, the cast is well picked. Maggie Smith - portraying Lady Gresham, the rich evil mother of Jane's first admirer - is as excellent as ever. To give them credit, Hathaway's on-screen chemistry with James McAvoy (as Tom Lefroy) is fantastic too.
Although there are no unanswered questions at the end, there is a cheesy, 20-years-later epilogue to conclude. The film is watchable, but be prepared for an anticlimax at the end leaving you thoroughly dissatisfied and depressed.
INLAND EMPIRE (15)
Belt up and don your crash helmet! Unless you're ready to be taken on a weird and wild ride, don't watch this film. Director David Lynch has arguably been the king of American arthouse cinema for 20 years; Inland Empire is his artiest yet.
The film's plot - if it can be called that - centres on Nikki Grace (Laura Dern), a Hollywood actress who has landed a part in a major new film. Things begin to get creepy at the first script reading when the director (Jeremy Irons) begins to tell her of the project's Polish routes and cursed past, only to be interrupted by a presence lurking on set. As her co-star (Justin Theroux) attempts to seduce her, things begin to get crazy and the film descends into a series of alternative realities and surreal episodes, most notably a sitcom-style living room scene peopled by humanoid rabbits.
Treat this like a three-hour long dream: be amazed, be amused, be horrified, but don't wake up; stick with it. You'll either admire or despise Lynch's audacity for putting you through the experience, but remember he's laughing with you and not at you.
MY BEST FRIEND (12)
Released 17 September
The title of this film isn't strictly accurate, for if this film was a person (bear with me here) it wouldn't be your best friend. Rather, it would be a friend of a friend who you met once, thought they were all right, but you're not too bothered about seeing them again.
Daniel Auteuil is the principal character, who you might recognise from Hidden, a cracking French film from a couple of years ago. He plays François, an antique dealer who is so consumed by his work that he hasn't got time to cultivate friendships. His colleague Catherine (Julie Gayet) challenges him to prove that he has a best friend, so he is forced to go and find one. Numerous dead ends mean that he ends up with a random taxi driver. A little far-fetched perhaps, but the ups and downs of their quickly forged friendship do add a touch of realism.
Things take a nose-dive with an over-long scene that revolves around an episode of Who Wants to be a Millionaire - guess which lifeline represents a key plot device - but at least Chris Tarrant is nowhere to be seen. Hmm, perhaps we should consider this a friendly film after all...
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