Forget Me Not (2010)
★★★ / ★★★★
Will (Tobias Menzies) is a musician who was booked in a bar where Eve (Genevieve O’Reilly) works as a bartender. After exchanging flirtatious smiles from across the room, they go about their separate ways. That same night, Will plans to kill himself. The razor, pills, and bathtub are ready for him, but there is a phone call. Eve is on the other line. She tells Will that he has forgotten his guitar and he should pick it up before the bar closes. The two meet up and spend almost an entire day together.
“Forget Me Not,” based on a screenplay by Mark Underwood, has a simple premise but it is able to explore a spectrum of emotions in mature and insightful ways.
This can be attributed to the strong chemistry between the two leads. O’Reilly plays Eve with such lightness and vivacity. She enjoys asking questions with a smile, throws in an inappropriate joke here and there, and the way she tries to connect with Will holds a certain delicateness. On the other hand, Menzies plays Will as a man surrounded by walls that he becomes a mystery. His sadness piques our interest. The question why he wishes to kill himself is constantly in the back of our minds. But he is not just a character who wants to commit suicide. He wants to make a connection but his fears often get in the way.
The best example of this is when Eve asks a question about Will’s parents. Before the question is asked, they seem so close that we can almost feel the two yearning to grab each other and lean in for that first momentous kiss. But after Eve asks a seemingly innocent question, the spark disappears almost immediately. Will’s walls were up again. It seems like they are back to square one.
The characters’ contrasting personalities are relatable and we are able to emotionally invest in their playful interactions. We want them to be together. One of the most moving scenes involves Lizzie (Gemma Jones), Eve’s grandmother, who has an appointment for a cognitive exam. As a person who has had experience with people inflicted with dementia, among them Alzheimer’s Disease, the scene is as real as it can get. There is an explicable sadness that looms when someone you have known (and has known you) your entire life is slowly being taken away. They are alive but they do not feel like the same person. They stop being able to recognize you; they forget the many things you have been through together; they even stop recognizing themselves. It is an eye-opening moment for Will and Eve because it is a reminder that they should not take the time they have for granted. In a way, the message is also directed at us.
“Forget Me Not,” directed by Alexander Holt and Lance Roehrig, is about two people struggling to find the right rhythm when they are around each other. What they share is best reflected in a wonderful scene when Eve and Will dance at a party and only the duo listen to the same song while sharing earphones from the same iPod.
The Winslow Boy (1999)
★★★ / ★★★★
Just when the Winslow clan were about to make a toast for Catherine (Rebecca Pidgeon) and John’s (Aden Gillett) marriage, Ronnie (Guy Edwards), the youngest member of the family, arrived from The Royal Naval Academy. It turned out Ronnie had been expelled because the academy deemed him to be a thief. Arthur (Nigel Hawthorne), the patriarch, sacrificed the family fortune, his health, and relationship with his wife (Gemma Jones), Catherine, and elder son (Matthew Pidgeon) in pursuit of clearing the Winslow name. This film delighted me because it delivered the unexpected. The source of tension wasn’t in the courtroom scenes but in the way the family members and their friends (Colin Stinton, Sarah Flind) responded the great changes in their lives as the case gained popularity. Arthur was a proud man but he was aware that his quest for justice might not always be the right thing to do. He had to make very difficult decisions as he saw his daughter’s prospect of marriage vanish, embraced the possibility that his son might be telling a lie, and took his eldest son out of school because money was becoming an issue. The film was also about the partnership between a father and his only daughter. Catherine had clear political leanings and, like Jane Austen’s most fun and interesting female characters, she wasn’t afraid to express her opinions in a direct and honest way. There were a number of times when Arthur asked Catherine if he was being foolish and perhaps he ought to stop his crusade. Despite the fact that it was important for Catherine to get married soon, especially since she was almost thirty, she was worthy of admiration because putting her family ahead of herself was never in question. I thought Catherine was one of the most fascinating figures in the film because she was a feminist yet she willingly took the role of the obedient woman. By taking that role, she showed us that being a woman was not a handicap, that women could be as strong, intelligent, and dedicated as the men in charge of the courtroom. The addition of Sir Robert Morton (Jeremy Northam), the Winslow’s cunning defense lawyer, challenged and, despite the difference in their political alignment, attracted her. Pidgeon’s nuanced acting made the film believable and relevant. Based on a play by Terence Rattigan, “The Winslow Boy,” directed by David Mamet,” was beautifully shot. Each movement of the camera had a sense of urgency. Most importantly, it was full of passionate dialogue and it underlined the complexity between justice and doing what is right.
You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger (2010)
★★ / ★★★★
Helena (Gemma Jones) decided to see a fortuneteller (Pauline Collins) after the divorce between her and her husband (Anthony Hopkins) had been finalized. She claimed she needed direction, but we quickly realized that she was clingy, didn’t know how to keep certain opinions to herself, and was hopelessly gullible. Maybe the divorce was a gift or a breath of freedom for her husband. Sally (Naomi Watts), Helena’s daughter, was also having trouble with her marriage. Roy (Josh Brolin), Sally’s husband, was having a difficult time finishing his book and was weighing the possibility of having an affair with a beautiful woman in red (Freida Pinto), his muse, across their apartment building. On the other hand, Sally was considering to have an affair with her boss (Antonio Banderas) while working in an art gallery. “You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger,” written and directed by Woody Allen, was a missed opportunity. The story was interesting, the coincidences didn’t feel heavy-handed and the various ironies between and around the characters were accessible. However, the film felt like a satisfying but incomplete novel. Just when Allen needed to deliver the punches involving the consequences that the characters had to live with due to their unwise actions, the screen abruptly faded to black. It left me wanting more but not in a good way. The picture’s lack of resolution highlighted its flaws, especially its highly uneven tone. Allen spent too much time trying to convince us that what we were seeing was comedic. As a result, he was stuck in highlighting the characters’ quirks instead of exploring other dimensions that would make us want to get to know more. For instance, the relationship between Hopkins’ character and his young girlfriend (Lucy Punch) was mostly played for laughs. The former’s quirk was, despite his age, he was convinced that he was still in his thirties. Like his ex-wife, he was inclined to self-delusion. The latter was a classic golddigger who loved to buy expensive clothing and accessories in exchange for sex. She was a former callgirl but, in reality, she never left her profession. The film only turned darker toward the end when Hopkins’ character, after the woman revealed that she was pregnant, threatened her that the baby better have been his or else. The comedic element was gone and we were left to stare at the character’s desperation, hurt, and anger in his eyes. Unfortunately, that was the last scene between the old man and the golddigger. The same hustle-and-bustle applied to the other characters and were left in the dust wondering what happened next. Not unlike Helena, “You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger” needed a strong direction with clear vision. The important questions it brought up about life were cheapened and it ultimately felt like Philosophy 101.