A review of the new film “Empire Of Light”

I’m always going to watch something from British director Sam Mendes and recently his output has been so variable: after the Bond movies “Skyfall and “Spectre” and the war film “1917”, we have an altogether different offering.

I had originally thought that it would be a homage to cinema, something like a British version of “Cinema Paradiso” but, while the setting is a cinema (located in the Margate of the 1980s) and one character has a true love for the art form (the projectionist played by Toby Jones), this is much more a story of a complicated relationship: inter-generational, inter-racial, and involving mental illness. The unlikely couple are wonderfully played by established star Olivia Colman and promising newcomer Micheal Ward.

Mendes wrote as well as directed this and, like “1917”, it is a tribute to a family member – in this case, to Mendes’ mother who suffered from mental illness. In fact, the narrative is a bit formulaic and at times contrived, so it does not always seem likely or credible, but it is a worthy work and eminently watchable.


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