Ammonite (2020)

Ammonite
Director: Francis Lee
Writer: Francis Lee
Cast: Kate Winslet, Saoirse Ronan, Gemma Jones, Fiona Shaw, Alec Secareanu, James McArdle, Claire Rushbrook
Part of: Queertactics Festival
Seen on: 23.6.2021

Plot:
Mary Anning (Kate Winslet) lives in a small town at the sea with her mother (Gemma Jones). Every day, Mary goes down to the beach to look for fossils, having made many important finds already – not that the scientific establishment cares much about her. Nevertheless, one day a geologist, Roderick Murchinson (James McArdle) comes to her shop and hopes to accompany Mary to the beach to learn from her. He is willing to pay for it, and Mary is poor, so she agrees. A little while later, Murchinson leaves on a trip to the continent, but leaves behind his sickly wife Charlotte (Saorise Ronan). Mary finds herself suddenly responsible for Charlotte, a charge she resents at first. But slowly the two of them warm to each other.

Ammonite is a really nice film with excellent performances and good characters. It could have done with a little more happiness, but I did like it a lot.

The film poster showing Mary Anning (Kate Winslet) looking to the right and Charlotte Murchison (Saoirse Ronan) to the left. Their inages are pale apart from where their two faces intersect.
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Little Women (2019)

Little Women
Director: Greta Gerwig
Writer: Greta Gerwig
Based on: Louisa May Alcott’s novel
Cast: Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Florence Pugh, Eliza Scanlen, Laura Dern, Timothée Chalamet, Tracy Letts, Bob Odenkirk, James Norton, Louis Garrel, Jayne Houdyshell, Chris Cooper, Meryl Streep
Seen on: 31.1.2020
[Here are my reviews of the 1994 and the 2018 versions.]

Plot:
Meg (Emma Watson), Jo (Saoirse Ronan), Beth (Eliza Scanlen) and Amy (Florence Pugh) are sisters, living with their mother Marmee (Laura Dern) as their father is off fighting in the war. Their lives are spent working or studying and trying to help the even poorer people in the neighborhood. In their sparetime, they like to play creatively. When their neighbor Mr. Lawrence’s (Chris Cooper) grandson Laurie (Timothée Chalamet) moves in with his grandfather, he quickly finds himself included with the girls. Together, they navigate life’s ups and downs.

There are many, many things I really love about this version of Little Women. I enjoyed myself thoroughly as I watched it. And at the same time, there are so many narrative choices here that I hate that it really speaks to the film’s quality that I still liked it a lot.

The film poster showing the four Marsh girls (Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Florence Pugh, Eliza Scanlen) looking out a window.
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Mary Queen of Scots (2018)

Mary Queen of Scots
Director: Josie Rourke
Writer: Beau Willimon
Based on: John Guy‘s book Queen of Scots: The True Life of Mary Stuart
Cast: Saoirse Ronan, Margot Robbie, Jack Lowden, Joe Alwyn, Simon Russell Beale, Guy Pearce, Adrian Lester, Gemma Chan, David Tennant, Martin Compston, Ismael Cruz Cordova, Brendan Coyle, Ian Hart, James McArdle
Seen on: 30.1.2019
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Plot:
Mary Stuart (Saoirse Ronan) just returned to Scotland from France, making her even more of a threat to her cousin Queen Elizabeth I’s (Margot Robbie) reign. Protestant Elizabeth fears the younger, Catholic Mary, and hopes to strengthen her own hold on the crown by marrying Mary off to a Protestant Englishman. Politically, the right man for the job would be Robert Dudley (Joe Alwyn), but Elizabeth is hesitant because she is in love with Dudley herself. And Mary’s heart is also set on somebody else.

Mary Queen of Scot was so… long. I just couldn’t get excited about a film that drags and drags, despite some really excellent points it makes and despite wonderful performances. But dammit, it was boring.

The film poster showing Mary Stuart (Saoirse Ronan) and Queen Elizabeth I (Margot Robbie) both dressed in similar dresses in the exact same shade of gold.
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On Chesil Beach (2017)

On Chesil Beach
Director: Dominic Cooke
Writer: Ian McEwan
Based on: his own novel
Cast: Billy Howle, Saoirse Ronan, Anne-Marie Duff, Adrian Scarborough, Emily Watson,
Samuel West
Seen on: 5.7.2018

Content note: (sexualized) abuse

Plot:
Edward (Billy Howle) and Florence (Saoirse Ronan) come from different backgrounds – Edward being working class and Florence more upper class. That hasn’t kept them from falling in love, though. Now they finally got married and have reached the beach where they’re supposed to spend their honeymoon. But with the wedding night and associated pressures looming over them, they are not really at ease.

On Chesil Beach is pretty much feel bad cinema with sharply observed characters and relationships. It wasn’t quite as depressing as I feared it would be, nor was it as good as I hoped it would be. It is very far from bad, though.

Film poster showing Billy Howle and Saoirse Ronan on a beach, looking in opposite directions.
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Lady Bird (2017)

Lady Bird
Director: Greta Gerwig
Writer: Greta Gerwig
Cast: Saoirse Ronan, Laurie Metcalf, Tracy Letts, Lucas Hedges, Timothée Chalamet, Beanie Feldstein,
Seen on: 25.4.2018

Plot:
Christine calls herself Lady Bird (Saoirse Ronan). She is a teenager, not particularly well-off, and doesn’t really fit in at her expensive Catholic high school, where her only and best friend is Julie (Beanie Feldstein) who is an outsider as well. She dreams of adventure and culture which both seem pretty unattainable where she is right now. But Lady Bird is in her senior year and that might be her chance to escape. Before that, though, she has stuff to figure out: which college she can go to, whether her mother (Laurie Metcalf) actually likes her, and also that entire thing with boys: what’s the deal?

Lady Bird is a really cute film with a great Saoirse Ronan. It might be a little too married to the conventions of a coming of age film, but I really did enjoy it.

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Loving Vincent (2017)

Loving Vincent
Director: Dorota Kobiela, Hugh Welchman
Writer: Dorota Kobiela, Hugh Welchman
Cast: Douglas Booth, Josh Burdett, Holly Earl, Robin Hodges, Chris O’Dowd, John Sessions, Helen McCrory, Eleanor Tomlinson, Aidan Turner, Saoirse Ronan, Jerome Flynn, Robert Gulaczyk
Seen on: 18.1.2018
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Plot:
Postmaster Roulin (Chris O’Dowd) has attempted several times to deliver the last letter of Vincent van Gogh (Robert Gulaczyk). By now, the intended recipient – Vincent’s brother – has passed away as well. Hoping that Vincent’s close friend, Dr Gachet (Jerome Flynn), is the right person to receive it under the circumstances, Roulin sends his son Armand (Douglas Booth) to Gachet’s village with the letter. Armand is not happy about the task, but once he learns more about Vincent, he becomes intrigued and starts to investigate his death.

Loving Vincent is visually astounding, taking van Gogh’s paintings and bringing them to life. Unfortunately the story doesn’t do the visuals justice, so the film only half works.

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Byzantium (2012)

Byzantium
Director: Neil Jordan
Writer: Moira Buffini
Cast: Saoirse Ronan, Gemma ArtertonSam RileyJonny Lee Miller, Caleb Landry Jones, Daniel Mays, Uri Gavriel, Maria Doyle Kennedy, Tom Hollander
Seen on: 1.1.2017

Plot:
Eleanor (Saoirse Ronan) and her mother Clara (Gemma Arterton) had to leave their old town in a hurry and have ended up in a small coastal town where they try for a new start. Being centuries old vampires, this is not the first time they had to do this. Eleanor is struggling with what she is, while Clara is pragmatic enough to always fall on her feet. She quickly finds Noel (Daniel Mays), who owns a run-down hotel, and with him shelter and work. Meanwhile Clare meets Frank (Caleb Landry Jones), a student with leukemia, and feels immediately drawn to him. But they aren’t save yet.

Byzantium has a great set-up and a great cast and it could have been utterly brilliant, but it did neither justice. To call it disappointing almost isn’t strong enough.

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Re-Watch: Hanna (2011)

Hanna
Director: Joe Wright
Writer: Seth LochheadDavid Farr
Cast: Saoirse Ronan, Cate Blanchett, Eric Bana, Tom HollanderOlivia WilliamsJessica Barden
Seen on: 18.4.2016
[Here’s my first review.]

Plot:
Hanna (Saoirse Ronan) grows up with her father Erik (Eric Bana) in complete seclusion. He trains her to be the perfect spy and she grows up knowing that once she leaves her solitary life, she will be hunted down by Marissa (Cate Blanchett). Nevertheless Hanna wants to head out into the world and finally Erik also agrees that she’s ready. So the first thing Hanna does is to head out and try to kill Marissa, before Marissa can kill her.

I was rather disappointed in the film when I saw it the first time – I just didn’t think it lived up to its potential. So I hadn’t planned on watching it again but then it was part of my curriculum at uni and I decided to give it another try. With my expectations dialed down, I was able to enjoy Hanna much more than the first time.

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Brooklyn (2015)

Brooklyn
Director: John Crowley
Writer: Nick Hornby
Based on: Colm Tóibín‘s novel
Cast: Saoirse RonanEmory CohenDomhnall Gleeson, Fiona Glascott, Jane Brennan, Julie Walters, Emily Bett Rickards, Jim Broadbent
Seen on: 26.1.2016

Plot:
Eilis (Saoirse Ronan) lives in a small Irish town with her mother Mary (Jane Brennan) and her sister Rose (Fiona Glascott). But Eilis has the chance to get of there and start a new life in the USA, which is exactly what she does. With the help of an acquainted priest (Jim Broadbent) who already lives abroad, she makes her way to New York where she builds a new life for herself. But when she is called back to Ireland, she will have to decide which way she wants her life to go.

Brooklyn was one of those films that is simply extremely nice to watch and enjoy. It hits all the right emotional buttons in a not exactly subtle, but unobtrusive way and pretty much everybody in it is simply adorable.

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Lost River (2014)

Lost River
Director: Ryan Gosling
Writer: Ryan Gosling
Cast: Christina Hendricks, Iain De Caestecker, Saoirse Ronan, Matt Smith, Ben Mendelsohn, Eva Mendes, Reda Kateb, Barbara Steele
Part of: /slash Filmfestival
Seen on: 30.4.2015
[Reviews by Maynard and cornholio.]

Plot:
Billy (Christina Hendricks) lives alone with her two kids in a mostly abandoned neighborhood. When he’s not busy dreaming about his neighbor Rat (Saoirse Ronan), Billy’s older son Bones (Iain De Caestecker) tries to support them by stealing copper from the empty houses around them, which draws the ire of local thug (Matt Smith) who claims all the copper for himself. Threatened by foreclosure, Billy accepts a job offer from Dave (Ben Mendelsohn), her bank manager who has a little business at the side at a strange night club.

Lost River is not a perfect film. But it is an enchanting, strong debut that I won’t mind watching again.

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