Meewella | Critic

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Tag: Florence Pugh

QuickView: The Falling (2014)

“I resent this idea that we’re just emotional. This is real.”

Lydia Lamont

Carol Morley’s drama about an apparent mass hysteria event at a strict girls’ school following a tragedy is written with a fluid structure that explores a range of themes. Florence Pugh shows immediate promise in her acting debut, though this is really Maisie Williams’ film as the troubled Lydia who struggles both for attention and support. The primary focus is how a school so focused on discipline is ill-equipped to provide proper care for its pupils in crisis. Lydia’s home life offers scant respite, with a neglectful and neurotic mother and no father. Her older brother steps in as a confusing surrogate; the two are close because they have no one else as well as through shared grief, but their relationship’s unsettling progression into something incestuous works better as an implication than appearing on-screen. The Falling provides best catharsis in Lydia’s relationship with her mother as family truths are revealed. By contrast, much of what happens in the school remains deliberately obtuse, with rapidfire interstitial imagery referencing the occult and past memories. Some of the best character insight is provided through brief personal moments with side characters — these are clear in their intention and unhindered by the messiness of the main narrative. However, none of the narrative shortcomings make this dreamy experience in 1969 any less captivating.

7/10

QuickView: Black Widow (2021)

Black Widow poster

“I’ve lived a lot of lives… but I’m done running from my past.”

Natasha Romanoff

The first two thirds of Black Widow is a taut globetrotting espionage action movie that explores the character’s secretive past and her childhood family as part of a Russian sleeper cell. Highlights include a tense escape sequence through city traffic with her sister, a Siberian jailbreak, and an incredibly awkward family reunion. Unfortunately the final act falls into formulaic Marvel action territory with a weak villain that all swiftly becomes tedious and leaves an underwhelming overall impression. Black Widow also suffers from being released many years too late. In 2019, I said it was a shame for Captain Marvel only to arrive once fatigue with the Marvel formula was setting in. In 2021, not only has Black Widow already been killed off in the mainline franchise, but — with key actors bowing out after Endgame — we don’t even see Scarlett Johansson’s easygoing chemistry with her Avengers co-stars, just repeated name dropping. Johansson is still the film’s greatest asset, deftly switching between strength and suppressed vulnerability. She is ably supported by the two new character introductions — Florence Pugh as Natasha’s assassin sister and David Harbour as the bombastic Red Guardian — but this attempt to flesh out Black Widow’s backstory now is too little and too late for a character that the MCU has never treated as well as she deserves.

6/10

"A film is a petrified fountain of thought."

(CC) BY-NC 2003-2021 Priyan Meewella

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