Meeting in the Aisles

Films of the Decade – The Aftermath

Posted in Features by le1gh on January 5, 2010

The full countdown is here.

A quick recap, then some further notes and observations:


THE LIST                                                                                       SEE ALSO (Honourable Mentions)

1. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)          Tarnation (2004)

2. Mulholland Dr. (2001)                                                        Serenity (2005)

3. Y Tu Mama Tambien (2001)                                             4 Months 3 Weeks 2 Days (2007)

4. The Incredibles (2004)                                                       Femme Fatale (2002)

5. Brokeback Mountain (2005)                                            L.I.E (2001)

6. Innocence (2005)                                                                 Let the Right One In (2009)

7. I For India (2006)                                                                Capturing the Friedmans (2004)

8. A.I – Artificial Intelligence (2001)                                Southland Tales (2006)

9. The Darjeeling Limited (2007)                                        Since Otar Left (2003)

10. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (2001-3)                      Moulin Rouge (2001)

11. City of God (2002)                                                               Black Book (2006)

12. Shaun of the Dead (2004)                                               High Fidelity (2000)

13. Talk to Her (2002)                                                             Offside (2006)

14. Memento (2001)                                                                 The Bourne Supremacy (2004)

15. Gosford Park (2001)                                                         A Prairie Home Companion (2006)

16. A Ma Soeur! (2001)                                                           My Summer of Love (2004)

17. A Serious Man (2009)                                                      Adaptation (2002)

18. The Lives of Others (2007)                                             The Dreamers (2004)

19. Up (2009)                                                                              Anvil! The Story of Anvil (2008)

20. Code Unknown (2000)                                                    The Edge of Heaven (2007)

21. The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)                                     Together (2001)

22. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)                 In the Mood for Love (2000)

23. School of Rock (2003)                                                      The Beat That My Heart Skipped (2005)

24. In This World (2002)                                                        The Class (2008)

25. Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)                                                    The Orphanage (2008)

26. Requiem for a Dream (2000)                                        Keane (2004)

27. Dogville (2003)                                                                    Russian Ark (2002)

28. This is England (2006)                                                     Almost Famous (2000)

29. Zodiac (2007)                                                                      Memories of Murder (2004)

30. No End in Sight (2007)                                                    Grizzly Man (2005)

The Ones That Got Away:

Inevitably some films slip through the cracks and here are just a handful of those I wish I’d seen and can easily imagine might have found their way on to my list of favourites if I wasn’t such a 350-film-a-year slacker:

A One and a Two (2000)

George Washington (2000)

Werckmeister Harmonies (2000)

Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner (2001)

The Best of Youth (2003)

Head-On (2004)

2046 (2004)

Man Push Cart (2005)

Still Walking (2008)

Where The Wild Things Are (2009)

Missing in Action:

You’d have thought that 30 places x 2 was enough to list all the films I really wanted to honour. Fat chance. Here are a handful of titles that I’m slightly ashamed to have ultimately left out:

Breakfast on Pluto (2005) – Neil Jordan’s lyrical tale of a transvestite starring an eerily convincing Cillian Murphy.

Finding Nemo (2003) – Pixar at their most kid-friendly and charmingly inventive.

Fish Tank (2009) – poetic social realism from Britain’s Andrea Arnold.

Jindabyne (2005) – Fine Australian feature based on a Raymond Carver short story previously used in Robert Altman’s Short Cuts. Great performances by Gabriel Byrne and Laura Linney.

Little Miss Sunshine (2006) – Accessible US indie par excellence; the climactic dance number was a joyous jaw-dropper.

Casino Royale (2006) – the Best Bond (Daniel Craig) and Best Bond Movie either since Goldfinger or since, well, ever.

Old Boy (2003) – put New Korean cinema on the map with visceral, stylish intensity.

The Dark Knight (2008) – the best live-action superhero movie ever. Ledger’s Joker is a revelation.

Comme Une Image (2004) – In France Agnes Jaoui makes effortlessly witty ensemble comedy-dramas the way Woody Allen used to.

The Man Who Wasn’t There (2001) – The Coens’ oddest, most melancholy and slyest comedy – until A Serious Man came along.

The Dark Knight – The Joker:

However the one exclusion above all that counts as a personal screw up (that’s what you get for trying to balance and parallel 30 pairs of films) is Alfonso Cuaron’s brilliant, gritty dystopia, Children of Men. Probably my favourite film of 2006, thematically rich – what would happen if babies stopped being born? – technically groundbreaking (the two key, one-take sequences, particularly the first inside the ambushed speeding car) and even boasting one of hit-and-miss Clive Owen’s very best performances, it’s another classy, emotionally gripping effort from one of the greatest directors working today.

My love of Y Tu Mama Tambien is already well documented, but Cuaron also made by far the decade’s best directed Harry Potter film (Prisoner of Azkaban), which took the series from kiddie flick to edgy, hormone-fuelled adolescent adventure (don’t believe me? What other Potter film opens with its teenage hero under the bedclothes playing with his “wand”?). Children of Men has visual effects as special as demolition derbies like 2012 or Armageddon, but grounds them with an integrity and a humanity that those films never even knew existed, let alone might be lost with the end of civilization.

Children of Men – Ambush:

Annus Mirabilis:

Common wisdom has 2007 as the decade’s “annus mirabilis,” particularly in American cinema, with heavyweight, unapologetically auteur fare like There Will Be Blood, No Country for Old Men, The Assassination of Jesse James By the Coward Robert Ford and Zodiac. But, for me, the real standout year was 2004. Aside from my own favourite Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, plus others on the List like The Incredibles, Tarnation, Capturing the Friedmans, Shaun of the Dead, The Bourne Supremacy, My Summer of Love, The Dreamers, Keane and Memories of Murder, try and whittle those plus this lot down to a Top 10 (or two):

Spider-Man 2, Sideways, Comme Une Image, House of Flying Daggers, Bad Education, Before Sunset, CollateralHowl’s Moving Castle, Downfall, Kinsey, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, The Motorcycle Diaries.

As one of the defining movie characters of the year might put it, “How about that for a slice of fried gold?”

2001 wasn’t too shabby either – four of my Top 10 – Mulholland Dr., Y Tu Mama Tambien, A.I Artificial Intelligence and the first of the Lord of the Rings trilogy – were all released that year. Plus L.I.E, Memento, Gosford Park, A Ma Soeur!, The Royal Tenenbaums, Together and Moulin Rouge! In fact, 2001 has 11 on the List compared to 2004’s 10, so while its quality is ostensibly superior, I’m pretty sure the quantity on a wider, non-List level doesn’t quite match up.

The worst year? By least number of List entries, 3, that would be either 2003 or the last two years. Which could mean either that the decade tailed off early, I got far more picky, or I just didn’t catch the best stuff since 2007.

Same Folks, Different Strokes:

Perusing other Best of the Decade lists, many repeat choices don’t make my list, although other films from the same directors do: Michael Haneke’s Code Unknown instead of Hidden; The Coens’ A Serious Man over No Country for Old Men; preferring Richard Linklater’s School of Rock to Before Sunset; or even The Incredibles over Wall-E. All those more cited alternatives are good, maybe even great films, with knockout scenes (see below) but ultimately didn’t move or provoke me as much as those I went with.

No Country for Old Men – “Call it.”

There Won’t Be Blood…:

I’ve tried a couple of times, but I just can’t get excited by P.T Anderson’s period epic in the way that its devotees do. Many things about it are extraordinary: Anderson’s handling of the near-wordless introduction and stunning oil blaze sequences; Jonny Greenwood’s hypnotically atonal score; Robert Elswit’s luminous cinematography that somehow feels both full-colour and sepia; and of course, Daniel Day-Lewis’ gargantuan performance, Godzilla to the film’s – and screen acting in general – Tokyo. His baptism scene is one of the all-time great pieces of screen acting:

And yet… I think many critics have projected readings into the film that simply don’t hold up. If it’s really about America’s twin faiths of religion and capitalism, then why is the Church, and Paul Dano’s slippery preacher, so little match for Daniel (Day-Lewis / Plainview)? The fast-forwarded coda, though ripe for milkshake-spouting quotes and YouTube mash-ups, feels like an awkward adjunct that skims through and short changes Plainview’s relationship with his son. By making him such an unredeemable sociopathic monster, it strips away several layers of complexity that Anderson himself and Day-Lewis had carefully applied. And it didn’t tell me (or predict) one thing about our oil obsession that wasn’t abundantly clear from watching the news for the last, oh, twenty years.

…or Steven. Or Quentin:

Steven Soderbergh continues to be the most intriguing filmmaker of our times: a restless, workaholic technophile, unpredictably flitting between styles (from pastiches like The Good German and The Informant! to opaque biopics like the Che films) and scale (Ocean’s Umpteen Hollywood razzle-dazzle to zero budget digital experiments like Bubble or The Girlfriend Experience) like Beyonce changes outfits mid-show. I’m glad he’s out there, doing his own thing – and yet, I can’t think of a single film this decade as essential as his best work in the 80s and 90s – sex, lies and videotape, The Limey and his masterpiece Out of Sight. Traffic comes the closest and that was almost a decade ago itself.

Quentin Tarantino – Is Tarantino the most ill disciplined, indulged talent since Michael Cimino and Heaven’s Gate? Three hours and two films to tell Kill Bill’s simplistic revenge drama? The standalone Deathproof was tiresomely over-extended compared to its original Grindhouse double-bill running time. And Inglourious Basterds grinds to a halt almost every time the immaculate Christoph Waltz leaves the fray. Tarantino’s proved he can handle action scenes, car chases and cracking duologues set pieces – now he needs someone to keep him on a leash and make another tight, vice-like trap like Reservoir Dogs to get back his real bite.

Most Overrated / Worst of the ‘Best’:

Nobody expected anything less than garbage from Paris Hilton’s The Hottie and the Nottie or anything from Martin Lawrence, but here are offenders either mistakenly lauded, popular or that, on paper, promised much but delivered next-to-nothing.

Bad Boys 2 (2005) – standing in for the entire oeuvre of Michael Bay’s boombastic porn aesthetic, even by his shocking cynical standards, this soulless, sadistic, jingoistic, racist trash is appalling.

Changeling (2008) – Clint Eastwood at his most turgid and reactionary, Angelina Jolie at her Oscar-baiting hammiest. By the way, did you know: it’s not her son?

Crash (2005) – not as bad as some of its detractors now make out, but stunningly didactic and manipulative in places; and beating Brokeback Mountain to the Best Picture Oscar makes it about as overrated as an average-to-poor movie can be.

Elephant (2003) – Gus Van Sant tackles Columbine-esque high school massacres in his ethereal style, drifts aimlessly down corridors, makes a couple of reactionary assumptions, then floats away. Thanks for that, Gus. Please get Milk, asap.

For Your Consideration (2007) – Christopher Guest and crack improv troupe tackling awards season hyperbole should’ve been a slamdunk. Instead it’s shockingly sloppy and crass. The fine line between stupid and clever just got erased.

Irreversible (2002) – Ugly, mendacious, pseudo-profound, reversed exploitation flick. Apparently we need to see Monica Bellucci raped in graphic detail for nine minutes to understand the horrors of abuse. Tihsllub.

Monster’s Ball (2001) – desperate attempt to get gritty with the awards crowd and push capital punishment, suicide and racial buttons. Halle Berry’s historic Oscar-winning performance is almost as embarrassing as her bawling award acceptance.

Righteous Kill (2008) – Pacino. DeNiro. No Michael Mann. A dog’s dinner of a thriller with a thunderously obvious twist from two old hounds who should know far better.

Team America: World Police (2004) – moments of anarchic brilliance (Kim Jong-Il’s ‘I’m Ronely’) but overall a juvenile, knee-jerk, cowardly response to world policing that, inadvertently or not, endorsed much of the Bush administration’s worst tenets.

And finally, to end on a more positive note – the actors that have made the work of writers, directors, cinematographers, technicians and other actors come to vivid, unforgettable life in the last ten years. RIP, Mr. Ledger…

Performances of the Decade:


10. Tilda Swinton – Michael Clayton (2007)

09. Amy Ryan – Gone Baby Gone (2007)

08. Kierston Wareing – Fish Tank (2009)

07. Amy Adams – Junebug (2005)

06. Helen Mirren – Gosford Park (2001)

05. Maria Bello – A History of Violence (2005)

04. Cate Blanchett – Notes on a Scandal (2006)

03. Rachel Weisz – The Constant Gardener (2005)

02. Marisa Tomei – The Wrestler (2008)

01. Meryl Streep – Adaptation (2002)


10. Robert Downey Jr – Tropic Thunder (2008)

09. Christoph Waltz – Inglorious Basterds (2009)

08. Mark Ruffalo – You Can Count On Me (2000)

07. Benicio Del Toro – Traffic (2000)

06. Brian Cox – L.I.E (2001)

05. Ben Kingsley – Sexy Beast (2001)

04. Jack Black – High Fidelity (2000)

03. Heath Ledger – The Dark Knight (2008)

02. Javier Bardem – No Country for Old Men (2007)

01. Casey Affleck – The Assassination of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford (2007)


10. Carice Van Houten – Black Book (2006)

09. Natalie Press / Emily Blunt – My Summer of Love (2004)

08. Sally Hawkins – Happy Go Lucky (2008)

07. Charlize Theron – Monster (2003)

06. Juliette Binoche – The Flight of the Red Balloon (2007)

05. Anamaria Marinca – 4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days (2007)

04. Nicole Kidman – Dogville (2003)

03. Kate Winslet – Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

02. Maribel Verdú – Y Tu Mama Tambien (2001)

01. Naomi Watts – Mulholland Dr. (2001)


10. Campbell Scott – Roger Dodger (2002)

09. Romain Duris – The Beat That My Heart Skipped (2005)

08. Sean Penn – Milk (2008)

07. Damian Lewis – Keane (2004)

06. Viggo Mortensen – A History of Violence (2005)

05. Gene Hackman – The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)

04. Haley Joel Osment – A.I – Artificial Intelligence (2001)

03. Ulrich Mühe – The Lives of Others (2006)

02. Daniel Day-Lewis – There Will Be Blood (2007)

01= Johnny Depp – Pirates of the Caribbean (2003)

01= Heath Ledger – Brokeback Mountain (2005)


Films of the Decade – Part IV: No.20 – No.16

Posted in Features by le1gh on December 15, 2009

Part I can be found here.

Part II is twiddling its thumbs here.

And Part III is lurking about over here.

20) CODE UNKNOWN (2000)

Dir & Scr: Michael Haneke

Stars: Juliette Binoche, Thierry Neuvic, Luminita Gheorghiu

Given Michael Haneke’s deserved reputation as modern cinema’s stern professor, a withholding elder prone to doling out moral lessons and punishing the easily satisfied, presumably preferring Code Unknown to his later, designated masterpiece Hidden would be applauded in its perversity of judgment. Of course, in reality Haneke wouldn’t care less; either way, you the audience have to work like crazy to decipher his glacial sociological treatises. Anything less is a waste of time. His time, naturally, not yours.

Code Unknown is no less formally precise and unblinking, piercingly intelligent and utterly remorseless as Hidden. But for me, arguably, there are glimmers of hope, of laughter, of vibrant, spontaneous life here often excluded in Haneke’s minutely calibrated work and, thankfully, a less hectoring tone too. A multi-character (led by the wonderfully unadorned Binoche), multi-strand narrative that’s the polar opposite to the likes of Crash’s neat, tick-boxed, catch-all thesis, the subtitle “Incomplete Tales of Several Journeys” is about as upfront as Haneke ever gets. A series of extended sequences, often in smooth, unobtrusive lateral tracking shots, punctuated by violent cuts to black, it brilliantly exposes modern life’s disconnects, false assumptions and bitter ironies, never better illustrated than in its masterly opening shot. (see below).

Code Unknown Opening Scene:

see also:


Dir & Scr: Fatih Akin

Stars: Baki Davrak, Patrycia Ziolkowska, Hanna Schygulla

Akin follows up his full throttle debut Head On with a more tempered, but equally enthralling look at the cultural politics of his own German-Turkish background. An interlinked, three-part, dual relationship story – the tragic, foretold deaths of a Turkish woman in Germany and German woman in Turkey – Akin uses his straightforward symmetry to constantly surprise and delve into a pair of fascinatingly unorthodox couplings and the impact felt on those around them. The original German title, “On the Other Side”, more clearly shows Akin’s sensitivity to how two different cultures switch, clash but ultimately, might reconcile through their common humanity.

The Edge of Heaven Trailer:

19) UP

Dir & Scr: Pete Docter  / Bob Peterson

Voices: Ed Asner, Jordan Nagai, Christopher Plummer

America’s greatest movie success story of this (any?) decade, Pixar Animation Studios seems to have it all: a challenging yet nurturing work environment whose “brain trust” of experts still defers to individual filmmakers; cutting-edge technology at the service of inventive, soulful stories; and that elusive ability to continually astound, engross and delight the proverbial kids of all ages.

Not that there aren’t certain formulas in play across Pixar’s output (buddy movies, frantic chase finales), but it’s their successes’ sheer nerve rather than complacency that amazes. Up’s premise – a flying house powered by helium balloons – screams multiplex bonanza. But would anyone else tether this high-concept to the tale of a grumpy old widower bound for Venezuela? Accompanied by a chubby Korean-American boy scout? Decisions like these separate Pixar from the pretenders (and justify the more crowd-pleasing talking dogs and airship pursuits); visually, too, not only is the digital animation ever more fluid, so is the storytelling. The ‘Carl & Ellie’ montage here combines Wall-E’s graceful, silent economy with the emotional wallop of Toy Story 2’s ‘Jessie’s song’ for a true heartbreaker. For anyone else, you’d think it must be downhill from here. For Pixar, you sense, the only way is Up.

Up Trailer:

See also:


Dir: Sacha Gervasi

Stars: Steve ‘Lips’ Kudlow, Robb Reiner, Slash

As in Up, here are more old fogeys still doggedly pursuing their dream, though these metalheads raise the roof with amps that go to 11 (and numerous other Spinal Tap-isms – what ya gonna do when your drummer’s called Robb Reiner?!) rather than balloons. Former Anvil roadie-turned-Spielberg screenwriter Sacha Gervasi’s affectionate documentary on his ageing rock idols impresses for how straight he plays things, allowing Lips and co’s own priceless unintentional comedy and puppyish sincerity to finally make it, entertain and, ultimately, genuinely move us. Ideally seen on a double bill with Tap and not embarrassed in such prestigious company.

Anvil! The Story of Anvil Trailer:


Dir & Scr: Florian Henckel Von Donnersmarck

Stars: Ulrich Mühe, Martina Gedeck, Sebastian Koch

Some of the best German films this decade have confronted their country’s troubled past head on, from Hitler’s Downfall to Goodbye Lenin!’s just-reunified Berlin. In The Lives of Others, the Wall and Communism are still very much in place as writer-director Florian Henckel Von Donnersmarck insinuates us into Stasi Officer Wiesler’s head(phones). A devoted implement of the state, Wiesler dispassionately eavesdrops on the GDR’s star playwright Georg Dreyman and his actress lover Christa-Maria Sieland to find incriminating evidence. Slowly, though, he’s captivated by the lives of these alluring, intriguing, disarmingly fragile others.

No mere simplistic morality play, HVD constructs a fiendishly intricate set of interlocking character studies and, alongside Coppola’s The Conversation, captures the definitive take on the illicit thrills and anguish of voyeurism. East Germany’s drab, neo-Orwellian bureaucracy is terrifying in its banality and mirroring its two male leads – both patriots, writers documenting their times, infatuated with the same tragic woman – adroitly shows how oppressive paranoia affects everyone it touches. Unashamedly endorsing art’s healing power and the basic act of ‘doing good’, the film personalises (and so dramatizes) the political through the superbly alert, internalized performance of the late great Ulrich Mühe’s Wiesler, one of modern cinema’s great anti-heroes.

The Lives of Others Clip: Wiesler’s Turning Point:

See also:


Dir: Bernardo Bertolucci  Scr: Gilbert Adair

Stars: Michael Pitt, Eva Green, Louis Garrel

Paris, Spring 1968. Revolution’s in the air but for three giddy cinephile adolescents (French siblings and an American interloper) in Bernardo Bertolucci’s sensual, explicit celebration of cinema, sex and youth, the true cause is movies. [From my original BBC Collective review] “Aren’t the supposed sexual politics merely sex instead of actual political engagement? …the film’s point is how the threesome avoids direct confrontation with the real world by taking refuge in fantasy – until the revolution literally comes crashing through the window. Less a wake-up call to today’s apathetic youth, more a ravishing trip down memory lane, it’s dreamy stuff, nonetheless, and Bertolucci’s best in decades.”

The Dreamers Trailer:

17) A SERIOUS MAN (2009)

Dir & Scr: Joel & Ethan Coen

Stars: Michael Stuhlbarg, Richard Kind, Fred Melamed

A prolific if variable decade from arguably today’s pre-eminent US filmmakers ends with their most personal – i.e. Jewish – and, for me, finest achievement since 1990’s Miller’s Crossing (and given interim brilliance like Hudsucker, Fargo, No Country etc, that’s some going). Featuring the late-60s Midwest suburbs of their youth, it’s another black comedy that mines outrageous mirth from the sort of cringe-making indignities that would sustain a dozen domestic dramas. Yet, as with the inner-ear / Jefferson Airplane shot near the beginning (you’ll know it when you see it), it feels that the Coens are really inside their characters’ pain this time and not just giggling down from on high. It’s serious laughter.

The image composition, editing, evocative use of sound and music are predictably immaculate, but what makes this film even more fascinatingly addictive is the use of Jewish mysticism as both question of genuine faith and Borscht Belt punchline. It’s a daring gambit but succeeds because of the refined absurdist humour and stellar deadpan performances from a cast of lesser-known stage veterans, chiefly Michael Stuhlbarg as their befuddled suburban Job. All-powerful and unknowable, the Coens are arcane and unyielding gods – but seriously, do we worship any other kind?

A Serious Man Clip: “I’ve Tried to be a Serious Man.”

See also:


Dir: Spike Jonze  Scr: Charlie Kaufman

Stars: Nicolas Cage, Meryl Streep, Chris Cooper

…or another desperately serious man trying to flourish in a cold world. After 1999’s insanely inspired Being John Malkovich, where else would Spike Jonze and screenwriting genius Charlie Kaufman go other than ponder Being Charlie Kaufman? With two great Nicolas Cage performances as tormented artist Charlie and (fictional) sweet-natured sell-out twin brother Donald navigating Hollywood’s straitjacket storytelling, it’s another bravura act of mischievous, self-reflexive, narrative knotting whose gear-changing third act somehow honours clichéd conventions whilst still subverting them. All this and note-perfect tragicomic turns from the sublime Streep and Chris Cooper, Adaptation only confirmed Kaufman (and Jonze) as true originals.

Adaptation Clip: The Beginning


Dir & Scr: Catherine Breillat

Stars: Anaïs Reboux, Roxane Mesquida, Arsinée Khanjian

Having endured 1999’s Romance, French provocatrice Catherine Breillat’s tediously explicit, near-pastiche of po-faced sexual theorising, her follow-up on the exploitation and youthfully deluded expectation of adolescent girls wasn’t exactly on the must-see list. But nothing could prepare for the icy, confrontational brilliance of À Ma Soeur! in which Breillat operates on teenage fantasy like a surgeon doing a heart transplant. Only Breillat takes hers out.

Two young siblings, chubby pre-teen Anaïs and fifteen-year-old nymph Elena, holiday with their parents. They bicker, taunt each other’s appearance, but they’re blood sisters and at night in their bedroom, Anaïs bears witness as a lothario Italian student tries to bed Elena. It’s a remarkable extended scene that shows up seedy male manipulation but has nothing on the film’s shocking climax (and dread-soaked approach), which gives previously stated desires a horrific twist. Breillat snakes the typically romanticized coming-of-age saga into something savage and primal; and though her tendentious body politics are not for everyone, the film’s corrosive ideas scar your reeling mind for days. One last thing: the film’s English-language title Fat Girl peddles the pseudo-rabble-rousing that Romance served up; yet its cheap label can’t disguise the potency of this penetrating, genuinely disturbing feminist masterwork.

À Ma Soeur! Trailer:

See also:


Dir & Scr: Pawel Pawlikowski

Stars: Nathalie Press, Emily Blunt, Paddy Considine

Polish-born Pawlikowski’s last feature to date is a peculiarly timeless British coming-of-age fable that ambitiously aims at so much – class, sexuality, spirituality – and hits every target. Based on a Helen Cross novel, Pawlikowski and lenser Ryszard Lenczewski’s febrile images steep the Yorkshire Dales in a hazy glow that reflects, even triggers, the fevered, intense relationship between scrappy orphan Mona and privileged bohemian Tamsin. While viewers are seduced into this dangerous world of lyricism and lust (with tender yet erotic love scenes), Pawlikowski remains clear-eyed and tough on the deceptions we all cast, eliciting sensuous star-making performances from Press and Blunt.

My Summer of Love Clip: ‘Edith Piaf’