Richard sits in on the CTV NewsChannel to have a look at the weekend’s big releases including “Gretel & Hansel,” a creepy re-imagining of a classic fairy tale, a lively revenge film called “The Rhythm Section” and the family drama of “Rosie.”
Richard and CP24 anchor Jee-Yun Lee have a look at the weekend’s new movies including a lively revenge film called “The Rhythm Section,” the dark fairy tale “Gretel & Hansel” and the family drama “Rosie.”
Richard sits in on the CFRA Ottawa morning show with host Bill Carroll to talk the new movies coming to theatres including “The Rhythm Section,” a revenge film that misses the beat, “Gretel & Hansel,” a grim retelling of a famous fairy tale, and the family drama “Rosie.”
A weekly feature from ctvnews.ca! The Crouse Review is a quick, hot take on the weekend’s biggest and most interesting movies! This week Richard looks at the Blake Lively revenge flick “The Rhythm Section,” the dark fairy tale “Gretel & Hansel” and the family drama “Rosie.”
Richard sits in on the CJAD Montreal morning show with host Andrew Carter to talk the new movies coming to theatres including “Gretel & Hansel,” a creepy re-imagining of a classic fairy tale and a lively revenge film called “The Rhythm Section.”
Imagine learning that the plane crash that claimed your family wasn’t an accident but a covered-up terrorist attack. You would be angry and perhaps hungry for revenge but few would go to the lengths as “The Rhythm Section’s” Stephanie Patrick (Blake Lively) in her search for justice. “I’ll find the people who did this,” she says. “I’ll kill every last one of them.”
Like so many people touched by unimaginable tragedy Patrick turns to drugs and alcohol to blunt the simmering wellspring of emotion that always seems ready to bubble over. In the three years since her family perished in a plane crash she has been pushed to the edge, despondent, leading a life of survivor guilt—she was supposed to be on the plane—and rage. “I have nothing left,” she says.
When a journalist tells her the crash was actually a case of terrorism and not mechanical failure or an act of God she springs into action, morphing from down ‘n out to knock ‘em out; part La Femme Nikita, part Lisbeth Salander. “I’ve been dying for three years,” she says to one of her victims. “For you it will only be a few minutes.”
Revenge dramas should be snappy. They should bring the viewer into the story, give them a reason to care about the vengeance but most of all they should be satisfying. Each act of retribution should give our dark sides an electrifying jolt. Unfortunately, “The Rhythm Section” misses each and everyone of these beats. The boilerplate script combined with slack pacing and predictable twists and turns are prettied up with an indie movie sheen but there’s not much here beyond some hand held theatrics and exotic locations.
Lively throws vanity out the window, making the most of an underwritten character. Unlike many other movies in this genre, she isn’t an instant super-spy. She’s jittery, struggling with the job of revenge, which, if we cared about what was happening on screen, might have been a nice twist on the usual insta-spy genre.
For all its style “The Rhythm Section” feels like the victim of a ruthless paring down. The story is truncated without enough information to get invested in the characters. A glimpse or two of Stephanie’s life before the plane crash—the o-so-brief flashbacks don’t count—would have deepened our connection to her and her pain so later, when the going gets rough, we would still be paying attention.
A weekly feature from from ctvnews.ca! The Crouse Review is a quick, hot take on the weekend’s biggest movies! This week Richard looks at the crime drama “White Boy Rick,” the Nicolas Cage rage-a-thon “Mandy” and the thriller “A Simple Favor.”
The name Paul Feig is closely associated with comedy but with “A Simple Favor” he takes a step away from the laughs to present a story of intrigue and suspense that begins with a friend asking for a little help.
The labyrinthine plot begins with Stephanie (Anna Kendrick), the plucky single mom of a young son. She’s a keener, a food vlogger who is always the first to volunteer for everything at her son’s school. When she meets Emily (Blake Lively), the blunt talking mother of her son’s schoolmate, she is smitten. Stephanie is lonely, a widower who pours herself into work and her son’s life. With Emily she discovers the pleasures of pouring a martini in the afternoon as a “reset” for the day. The pair bond almost immediately despite Emily’s warning, “You do not want to be friends with me, trust me.”
When Emily asks Stephanie for the “simple favour,” of picking her son up after school, the eager mom agrees. Trouble is, Emily disappears into the great wide open, leaving Stephanie stuck with a child and grieving husband (Henry Golding). As she struggles to find closure and poke around in the corners of Emily’s life she discovers her friend wasn’t quite the person she thought she was. “Secrets are like margarine,” Steph says, “easy to spread but bad for the heart.”
From here the film deep dives into a twisty-turny story of intrigue, misplaced love and insurance scams.
Midway through Stephanie asks, “Are you trying to Diabolique me?” It’s a call back to a 1955 psychological thriller that saw terrible people plan a murder while maintaining a perfect alibi. There are missing bodies and other comparisons to “A Simple Favor” but the similarities end there. Feig gets great performances from Kendrick and Lively but is a bit too leisurely in getting into the meat of the matter.
The opening scenes of the friendship building between the two women sparkle. Kendrick is wide eyed and naïve, with just a hint of the darkness that may lie beneath her perfectly manicured soccer mom exterior. By comparison Lively is an exotic beast, decked out in designer clothes and perfectly tousled main of blonde hair. Her candour puts Stephanie and the audience off balance. She loves her son Nikki, but money woes occupy her mind. Despite living in a rand home with all the amenities she’s on the verge of bankruptcy. “The nicest thing I could do for Nikki,” she says, “is blow my brains out.” Their friendship always seemed unconventional but Emily’s frankness hints at what is to come.
That’s the good stuff. From there “A Simple Favor” becomes a maze of good and bad intentions, fake outs, incest and gaslighting. Motivations shift and the twists pile up as the plot takes a darker tone. Trouble is, it takes too long to get where it is going. The interplay between the characters remains enjoyable but as they become increasingly unreliable narrators the story feels convoluted and stretched.