Plot: Dominika (Jennifer Lawrence) is a promising ballet dancer. Or rather, she used to be until an injury cost her her career. Instead she is recruited by her uncle Vanya (Matthias Schoenaerts) for the Sparrow School, a school designed to make spies. Training is hard, but Dominika makes it through. The target of her first mission is CIA agent Nate Nash (Joel Edgerton) who appears to have a Russian informant – and Dominika is supposed to find out who the informant is. But she and Nate gravitate towards each other – and that may threaten both of their missions.
I didn’t expect much of Red Sparrow, I have to say, but I filed it under “the things I do for Matthias Schoenaerts” and watched it anyway. I shouldn’t have – and neither should you.
Rockstar Marianne Lane (Tilda Swinton) is on holidays, recovering from throat surgery that affected her vocal chords. She is spending her time in Italy together with her boyfriend, photographer Paul (Matthias Schoenaerts) in companionable calm and silence. Until her ex-husband and ex-producer Harry (Ralph Fiennes) shows up with his daughter Penelope (Dakota Johnson), a daughter he only just recently met himself. Harry and Penelope both bring their own special kind of trouble to the formerly so idyllic stay.
A Bigger Splash starts off strong. While the cast manages to keep up the strength throughout, the plot does not. But with that much chemistry between everybody involved, I can certainly live without much of a plot.
Einar (Eddie Redmayne) and Gerda (Alicia Vikander) are both painters and a happily married couple. While Einar may be more successful than Gerda, at least for now, that doesn’t keep her from continuing to work. When her dancer friend Ulla (Amber Heard) is late for modelling, Gerda asks Einar for help. He feels silly at first, but as he gets in the role, something happens. Einar creates Lili and slowly Lili fights her way to life inside of him.
The way I just described the plot already shows that The Danish Girl is a deeply problematic film – because that is actually an accurate description of how it portrays being trans*. It boils down to a film that is completely misguided and misinformed about what transgender actually is and tears everything apart that stands in the way of that distorted vision, even the basis in reality that it supposedly has.
Lucile (Michelle Williams) lives with her mother-in-law Madame Angellier (Kristin Scott Thomas). The Angelliers are one of the richest families in the areas and Madame Angellier sees no reason not to continue getting her share from the farmers who work her lands just because it’s war time. Lucile – whose husband is a soldier – doesn’t like that strictness and harshness, their relationship is tense. Their situation grows even more difficult when the Germans reach their village and office Bruno von Falck (Matthias Schoenaerts) is placed in their home. Madame Angellier insists on ignoring him, but Lucile feels drawn to Bruno after she discovers that they share a passion for music.
Suite Française is a strong film although it didn’t quite manage to blow me away. Still, it’s a touching story with a strong cast and I wouldn’t have minded seeing more of them at all.
Vincent (Matthias Schoenaerts) is a soldier who struggles with PTSD after a tour in Afghanistan. While he’s home, waiting to be cleared for service again, he makes his money working as private security together with his friend Denis (Paul Hamy). They get a job at a party for a Lebanese businessman and Vincent is immediately suspicious of everything. Things get worse when he is asked to look after the businessman’s wife Jessie (Diane Kruger) and their son for a few days. Vincent feels drawn to Jessie but he can’t really trust his own perceptions: is he hallucinating or is there a real threat?
Maryland deeply impressed me. Not only does Winoncour manage to create an unbelievable amount of tension, Schoenaerts is absolutely hypnotic in his role. I was glued to the screen through the entirety of the film.
Bathsheba Everdene (Carey Mulligan) is rather poor, but her neighbor Gabriel Oak (Matthias Schoenaerts) whose hard work has seen him well-established as a farmer courts her anyway. But Bathsheba doesn’t want to get married and give up her freedom, and before she can change her mind, Gabriel loses everything and Bathsheba surprisingly inherits a large estate. With their fortunes reversed, Gabriel starts working for Bathsheba who not only tries to run her new farm on her own, but also finds herself entangled with her rich, well-settled neighbor William Boldwood (Michael Sheen) and dashing young officer Francis Troy (Tom Sturridge).
Far from the Madding Crowd is a beautiful piece of cinema: great cast, stunning camera work, perfect score and an engaging, interesting story. I loved it.
Sabine de Barra (Kate Winslet) is a well-established gardener who gets invited to present her plans for a piece of the Versaille gardens to André le Nôtre (Matthias Schoenaerts). Le Nôtre is irritated by Sabine’s lack of order, but decides to work with her anyway, even though his esteem in King Louis XIV‘s (Alan Rickman) eyes and his general reputation depend on the success of the gardens. The tension between Sabine and André soon spills from a professional to a more personal level, much to the disdain of André’s wife (Helen McCrory).
A Little Chaos is a film that would proabbly be classically considered a women’s film (not that there isn’t something for the guys there as well) and it’s a beautiful entry in that (if you will) genre, even though it’s a little heavyhanded sometimes.
Ali (Matthais Schoenaerts) was just recently put in charge of his son Sam (Armand Vedure). Completely overwhelmed by the situation and having no money at all, he leaves his home and moves in with his sister Anna (Corinne Masiero). There he finds a new job as a bouncer, through which he meets Stéphanie (Marion Cotillard) who declines his advances. While Ali moves from job to job, the only constant in his life his passion for boxing, Stéphanie’s life is shattered when she has an accident at the aqua park and loses both her legs. In her desperation, she calls Ali again and the two of them become friends.
Rust and Bone is a beautiful film, both to look at and to experience. It hits all the right notes, and both Ali and Stéphanie are extraordinary, intriguing characters, played to perfection by Schoenaerts and Cotillard.