Miss Marx (2020)

Miss Marx
Director: Susanna Nicchiarelli
Writer: Susanna Nicchiarelli
Cast: Romola Garai, Patrick Kennedy, John Gordon Sinclair, Felicity Montagu, Karina Fernandez, Emma Cunniffe, Philip Gröning, George Arrendell, Célestin Ryelandt, Oliver Chris
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 22.10.2020

Plot:
After the death of her father Karl (Philip Gröning), Eleanor Marx (Romola Garai), who has always been a socialist activist, takes over her father’s mantle. She works hard to make workers’ concerns heard and takes a particular interest in female workers. When she meets Edward Aveling (Patrick Kennedy), also a speaker and activist, she falls for him hard – and he is equally taken with her. Despite their passion for each other and for the socialist movement, their relationship isn’t always happy.

Miss Marx was an excellent start into the Viennale, shedding light on a woman we probably know way too little about. I would have liked it if the film had focused a little more on her political activism and a little less on her relationship with Aveling, but it was really well done.

The film poster showing Eleanor Marx (Romola Garai), blurred because she is moving, her hair wild.
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Amulet (2020)

Amulet
Director: Romola Garai
Writer: Romola Garai
Cast: Carla Juri, Alec Secareanu, Imelda Staunton, Anah Ruddin, Angeliki Papoulia
Part of: SLASH Filmfestival
Seen on: 21.9.2020
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Content Note: rape, (trans-)misogyny

Plot:
Tomas (Alex Secareanu) used to be a soldier, but he fled the war and his country and ended up in London where he barely scrapes by, working illegally and living on the streets. After a particular bout of bad luck, Sister Claire (Imelda Staunton) finds him and she is determined to find a new life for him. She suggests that he should move in with Magda (Carla Juri) and her ailing mother (Anah Ruddin). Their house is falling apart around them and Magda is overwhelmed with the care of her mother, so Sister Claire finds the situation to the advantage of everyone involved. And Tomas does settle into the new life, especially since he takes to Magda. A lot. But he also starts to suspect that there is more to the story and her mother.

Amulet starts promising, but the more it revealed, the less it made sense to me. And even more than that: the less I liked it.

The film poster showing a nun, her habit turning into batlike wings.

[SPOILERS]

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The Writer

The Writer
Director: Blanche McIntyre
Writer: Ella Hickson
Cast: Romola Garai, Michael Gould, Lara Rossi, Samuel West
Seen on: 23.4.2018

Plot:
A young woman (Lara Rossi), an aspiring playwright, meets the director (Samuel West) of a play she just saw and tells him just what she though of it. He barely takes her comments seriously, believing her naive, but inspired by her fire offers her a job anyway. They both are the characters of the Writer’s (Romola Garai) new play. The Director (Michael Gould) tries to bring it to life, but doesn’t seem to get what it’s about, making the Writer uncomfortable. Her boyfriend (Samuel West) urges her to stay with it regardless since it’s a well-paying job. Somehow the Writer has to find the balance between her vision and patriarchal and capitalist demands.

The Writer is a great piece of theater. It’s insightful, demanding, weird, self-aware, femininst and gripping. Beautifully done.

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Suffragette (2015)

Suffragette
Director: Sarah Gavron
Writer: Abi Morgan
Cast: Carey Mulligan, Anne-Marie DuffHelena Bonham Carter, Romola GaraiGrace Stottor, Ben Whishaw, Brendan Gleeson, Meryl Streep
Seen on: 09.02.2016

Plot:
Maud (Carey Mulligan) has spent more or less her entire life working as a washer woman in a factory. Quite to the contrary to her co-worker Violet (Anne-Marie Duff), Maud is trying to keep her head down. Violet, on the other hand, is a passionate suffragette, fighting for women’s rights. But the longer Maud hears about this fight, the more she finds herself drawn to it, slowly stumbling into the movement until she herself has to make some hard choices about her life.

The reactions to Suffragette I encountered so far were lukewarm at best – and I’m the next person with that reaction to add to the list. It’s not really a bad film, but it isn’t very good, either.

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One Day (2011)

One Day
Director: Lone Scherfig
Writer: David Nicholls
Based on: David Nichollsnovel
Cast: Jim Sturgess, Anne Hathaway, Patricia Clarkson, Jodie Whittaker, Romola Garai, Ken Stott, Matt Berry

Plot:
Emma (Anne Hathaway) and Dexter (Jim Sturgess) meet on the day of their graduation. Despite a sligth awkwardness in the beginning, they develop a deep friendship. The film chronicles their relationship by showing the both of them on one day in the year for the next 20 years, through highs and lows.

One Day is a nice chick flick, with enough kitsch to work but not too much to make you gag. Plus, it has a nice soundtrack. But it doesn’t really stand out from the mass of competitors.

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Emma (2009)

Continuing the adaptation watching after finishing the book, is the BBC’s newest Emma, a miniseries directed by Jim O’Hanlon and starring Romola Garai, Jonny Lee Miller, Michael Gambon, Jodhi May, Louise Dylan, Blake Ritson, Tamsin Greig, Laura Pyper and Rupert Evans.

Plot:
Emma Woodhouse (Romola Garai) is “handsome, clever, and rich” and also very interested in matching the people around her. She credits herself with matching up her former governess Miss Taylor (now Mrs Weston) (Jodhi May) and Mr Weston (Robert Bathurst) and encouraged by that success, sets about her next “victim”, naive and unrefined Harriet Smith (Louise Dylan). Despite the warnings of her friend Mr Knightley (Jonny Lee Miller), Emma wants to match Harriet with the local vicar, Mr Elton (Blake Ritson). For herself, Emma has no plans – other than Mr Weston’s son Frank Churchill (Rupert Evans) (who she has never met) excites her curiosity.

This miniseries is definitely the most literal adaptation of the book so far – little wonder, since it’s also the only one that gets four hours to tell the story. It has a surprisingly modern feel to it, which doesn’t always work and high production values, but around the middle it just stopped holding my interest.

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