Lesson of the week: depressing films are usually the better ones. If you avoid them, boy are you missing out on a lot of quality cinema. One of the three films below had a happy ending, and it was bullshit.
Passengers (Morten Tyldum)
Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence wake up early from their pods on a ship bound for another planet. Ninety years early in fact, which means they will die there. A lot has been said about the problems with this film, and to go into these would mean spoilers so all I’ll say is this: I still don’t know how I feel about it. It explores an interesting choice – one that has disturbing connotations but one that no viewer can genuinely say they’d never make in the same situation because ultimately, they don’t know what they’d do. It’s more the ending that is the problem because while the narrative could have gone in an interesting, less misogynistic direction, it has a bullshit resolution. Fantastic effects, likeable leads in Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt, and it’s never dull, but science fiction and fairy tale endings don’t mix.
Jackie (Pablo Larrain, 2016)
A fascinating character study of Jackie Kennedy (Natalie Portman) while she dealt with the aftermath of husband JFK’s assassination. Highly stylised in terms of editing and the immaculate costume design, Jackie also boasts a haunting, jarring score. I’ve heard the film referred to as ‘grief porn’ and while I can see why, I thought it was brilliant nevertheless. Caspar Phillipson looked uncannily like JFK to the point where I wondered if CGI had been involved. It hadn’t.
Moonlight (Barry Jenkins, 2016)
One of the top contenders for Best Picture at the Oscars later this month, Moonlight follows Chiron through three stages in his life as he battles with his identity and a tough upbringing. Three actors play Chiron as a child (Alex R. Hibbert), a teenager (Ashton Sanders) and adult (Trevon Rhodes). A meditation on black culture, toxic masculinity, and sexuality, this will likely break the hearts of all who see it. I spent most of the second half praying he wasn’t going to get shot by a cop. Mahershala Ali, Janelle Monae and Naomie Harris are all sublime in supporting roles. While I hope my fave, La La Land wins the top gong, I won’t mind if Moonlight brings it home because the more attention it gets, the better. To all the people out there who usually avoid this type of film because it’s too depressing and they want to remain in their bubble – make the effort to see something different.