Author: Bouquets & Brickbats

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

15/11/22

Cineworld, Edinburgh

In 2019, Black Panther was a genuine delight, a superhero movie that dared to challenge the preconceptions of the genre. What’s more, it was a film that made Black audiences, previously poorly represented in the world of spandex, flock to cinemas in their millions. Of course, after such phenomenal success, there was always going to be a sequel, but the tragic death of actor Chadwick Boseman (who played the lead role of T’Challa) left writer/director Ryan Coogler with a real quandary. How could he hope to make another Black Panther without Boseman? Should he recast the role? Or might there be another way?

Wakanda Forever opens with T’ Challa’s sister, Shuri (Letitia Wright), desperately trying to engineer a cure for the ‘mysterious illness’ that has recently claimed her brother. But of course, it’s already too late and soon she and Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett) are presiding over an elaborate funeral service, full of dancing, drumming and joyous singing. This feels as much like the cast’s heartfelt farewell to Boseman, as it does part of the story. But a story there must be, so…

We begin with a raid by armed soldiers on one of Wakanda’s outreach posts, an attempt to steal some of the priceless vibranium that makes the African nation the most powerful in the world. But Wakanda’s battalions of fearsome female warriors are lying in wait and one of those 12A style punch-ups duly ensues – the kind where no blow quite lands and no deaths are too clearly signalled. To add to the confusion, it’s all filmed at night, employing a particularly muddy palette, so it’s not always clear exactly who’s not quite punching who. Not an auspicious start.

And then it transpires that somebody else in the world has vibranium! He’s Namor (Tenich Huerta), a sort of merman with winged feet, who commands the Meso American undersea kingdom of Talokan (he’s better known as The Sub-Mariner in the source comic books). Namor is looking to form an alliance with Wakanda and warns Queen Ramonda that, if she refuses his invitation, he’ll consider her an enemy and will declare war on her people. She’s adamant that she won’t accept his terms, so war it shall be.

It was never going to be an easy task to follow up Black Panther, but it’s disheartening to witness just how completely this attempt fails at almost every step. The mournful reality of what’s happened behind the scenes seems to have infected the whole project, reducing it to a collection of turgid conversations featuring people talking about very serious matters in gloomy chambers. Shuri, previously an enthusiastic bright spark of a character, a sort of Q to Boseman’s Bond, has grown up to be a seriously sombre young woman, weighted down by the realisation that she must take on her brother’s former responsibilities. Meanwhile Basset’s Queen Ramonda seems permanently angry about everything and spends most of her time alternately shouting and sneering at people. As T’ Challa’s former wife, Nakia, the excellent Lupita Nyong’o is given precious little to do and the same goes for Martin Freeman as Agent Everett Ross, who seems to have been handed the thankless task of being the ‘comic relief.’ Where the first film hurtled gleefully along, fuelled by its own sense of reinvention, Wakanda Forever trudges dejectedly from scene to scene. At times, I am dangerously close to falling asleep.

Okay, there’s an admittedly epic final battle between the Wakandans and Namor’s aquatic hordes (who, it must be said, look like they’ve wandered in from the set of Avatar) – and, for the more patient viewer, there’s a post-credit sequence that offers up a genuine surprise – but by then it’s far too late to save this project from the doldrums. Some may argue that Coogler has taken the franchise into even more uncharted territory, but unfortunately, Wakanda Forever takes me to places I really don’t want to visit.

2.8 stars

Philip Caveney

Sister Radio

10/11/22

Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh

Sister Radio is a rare beast: an intimate two-hander with an epic sweep. We open with some recorded sound: two childish voices, giddy and playful, welcoming an imaginary audience to the ‘Sister Radio’ of the title. And then we move forward in time and place: we’re in Edinburgh; it’s 2020; the pandemic has just landed on our shores. The girls have grown up; indeed, sisters Fatemeh (Lanna Joffrey) and Shirin (Nalân Burgess) have been sharing a tenement flat for more than forty years. But something is amiss. Why don’t they speak to each other?

Sara Shaarawi’s script flits nimbly between the past and the present. Suddenly it’s the late 1970s, and Shirin arrives, suitcase in hand, newly immigrated to the UK from Tehran. Fatemeh is older; she’s already established a life for herself here – but she’s excited to see her sister, happy to share her apartment. As we move back and forth in time, we begin to see both the macrocosmic events that have shaped the women’s lives, and the microcosmic ones that have silenced them.

Despite the constraints of a simple, fixed set (designed by Becky Minto) and minimal costume changes, we are never in any doubt as to when we are, thanks to the clever soundscape emanating from the radio. It’s a lovely device, reminding us of the close relationship the sisters used to enjoy, and also anchoring us in time, via popular music and news coverage of key events. There’s the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Chernobyl disaster, a royal wedding or two – and, of course, the Iranian revolution, the reason Fatemeh and Shirin have sought sanctuary in Scotland. Their personal conflict plays out against this background, and director Caitlin Skinner skilfully balances the two strands.

Both Joffrey and Burgess inhabit their characters, their performances convincing and compelling, illuminating Shaarawi’s subtle exploration of what it means to be an immigrant. Their voluble discussions about their imagined futures are fascinating – while Shirin wants to return to Tehran, Fatemeh sees Edinburgh as her home. Even the years of silence are engaging, thanks to movement director Saffy Setohy: the sisters almost dance their daily rituals, existing separately within the same space, side-stepping away, their eyes never meeting – not even when they’re swapping coffee cups, to read each other’s fortunes in the grounds.

The revelation, when it comes, is somewhat disappointing: it’s mundane and predictable, unlike the set up. But maybe that’s the point: whatever else is going on – even something as momentous as the toppling of a regime – it’s the little things that propel us. We’re never free of our own pettiness.

Sister Radio, co-produced by Pitlochry Theatre and Stellar Quines, is on at the Traverse until Saturday. It’s a quietly impressive piece, and all the more resonant because of the current protests in Iran.

4 stars

Susan Singfield

Living

09/11/22

Cineworld, Edinburgh

Scripted by novelist Kazuo Ishiguro and directed by Oliver Hermanus, Living is a remake of Akira Kurosawa’s celebrated film, Ikiru – the story of a man coming to the end of his life and desperately trying to right the wrongs of his wasted opportunities. Set in the same era as the original, the story is cleverly relocated to a city hall somewhere in London, where a battalion of bowler-hatted wage slaves put reams of printed paper into order. The office is presided over by Mr Williams (Bill Nighy) a man so grievously incapable of meaningful conversation, that the office’s sole female occupant, Miss Harris (Aimee Lou Wood), has secretly dubbed him ‘Mr Zombie.’

But when his doctor informs him that, courtesy of stomach cancer, he has only a few months left to live, Williams finds he is totally incapable of talking about it to his son and daughter-in-law, preferring instead to unload on a random stranger he meets in a cafe, louche ‘artist’, Sutherland (Tom Burke). Sutherland listens in bewilderment as Williams tells him that he’s never properly lived his life and his solution is to take Williams out on the lash, visiting a series of seedy bars and strip clubs. This offers Williams some momentary respite from his torture, but no real answers.

Next, he has a chance encounter with Miss Harris, and ultimately takes her into his confidence. These scenes could easily be creepy, but it’s clear that Williams is inspired not by lust, but by the young woman’s youth: her ability to take pleasure in the smallest things – like the knickerbocker glory she gleefully chooses when the two of them have lunch at Fortnum’s. It’s these scenes that are the film’s strongest suit and one lengthy monologue from Williams, as he recalls happier times, actually has me filling up with tears.

Ultimately, Living is all about the inability of people to communicate with each other and the point is eloquently made, but – given the film’s length and the fact that it moves with all the urgency of glacial erosion – it sometimes feels as though it makes it several times over. Williams’ elevation to a kind of sainthood, as his final moments are recalled by a passing police constable (Thomas Coombes), come dangerously close to mawkishness. Furthermore, there’s a part of me that feels there’s a kind of cheating going on here. Williams’ progressing illness is conveyed with little more than the occasional grimace and a discreet spot of blood on a handkerchief. Otherwise, he remains as perfectly attired and implacable as ever. None of the horrors of his cancer are ever shown and we all know, don’t we, that real life is never as convenient as that?

Still, there’s plenty to admire here. Nighy was doubtless put on this earth to play the role of Williams, his chiselled, impassive features somehow managing to convey the torment that lies beneath that calm exterior – and Wood is simply adorable as the ingenue who breezes briefly through the fusty atmosphere of the office, before moving on to better things. Kudos should also go to the sound department, for the lustrous music that underpins the films key moments, accentuating the poignancy and regret of the central premise. The era is convincingly evoked, right down to the opening and closing credits and Sandy Powell’s meticulous costume design is, as ever, spot on.

A final thought. I wonder if this – like the film that inspired it – would have looked even more sumptuous in black and white?

3. 8 stars

Philip Caveney

Barbarian

08/11/22

Cineworld, Edinburgh

There’s been a lot of hush-hushery from the makers of Barbarian, of the ‘don’t give away the ending’ variety. I can totally understand why. Writer/director Zach Creggar has put together a low-budget horror tale that seems to delight in pulling the rug from under the viewer at regular intervals. No sooner am I thinking, ‘Ah, I know what’s happening here,’ than I am obliged to indulge in a major rethink, until – eventually – I’m in the ‘what the hell is happening here?’ camp.

I rather like being in this position and, in the end, I find I’m awarding points for Creggar’s chutzpah, as he gleefully galumphs into uncharted territory. Put it this way: if you can work out where it’s all going, you’re way ahead of me.

Tess (Georgina Campbell) is travelling to an Airbnb in a run-down neighbourhood of Detroit, ignoring regular calls from someone who we presume is her troublesome ex. She arrives in the dead of night, exhausted, only to find that the place is already occupied by Keith (Bill Skarsgärd), who seems thoroughly nice and agreeable. But is he? When Tess discovers that every hotel in Detroit is fully booked because of a convention, she reluctantly accepts Keith’s invitation to take the bed while he sleeps on the sofa, but she’s understandably apprehensive when he offers her a glass of wine.

The atmosphere is already freighted with anxiety and, when Tess wakes up in the night to find that her previously locked bedroom door is open, it’s clear that darker things are coming. These include: the unexpected arrival of the Airbnb’s owner, toxic male film director, A J (Justin Long); flashbacks to the antics of a very disturbing fellow called Frank (Richard Brake); and then there’s… no, sorry, I can’t really tell you about that. You probably wouldn’t believe me anyway.

Campbell and Skarsgärd are both terrific, and Long is convincing as the odious AJ. But Barbarian goes to some pretty horrible places. As the title suggests, there are various barbaric situations for viewers to get through and those who draw the line at seeing a man beaten to death with his own arm might prefer to give this one a miss. Like many films in the horror genre, it’s only in the closing stages that some of what’s happening onscreen begins to stretch credulity. (I was always told that all falling objects descend at the same speed – but apparently not.)

However, it’s been a while since a horror film has surprised me in such a positive way, and in that spirit, I’m happy to commend this film as a right riveting watch.

Just make sure you double-lock your bedroom door when you get home afterwards. It’s best to be on the safe side.

4.2 stars

Philip Caveney

Jinnistan

08/11/22

Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh

Jinnistan, directed by Niloo-Far Khan, is the last of this season’s PPP productions, and – in a break with the norm – it’s in the ‘big theatre’, aka Traverse One. This seems fitting, as the play’s parameters are bigger than normal too, encompassing not just the world as we know it, but the spirit realm as well. The Jinnistan of the title co-exists with Pakistan – but relations are strained, to say the least.

Malik (Taqi Nazeer, who also wrote the script) moved from Scotland to Pakistan a year ago. His wife, Layla (Avita Jay), and teenage daughter, Asiya (Iman Akhtar), have followed him there. Asiya’s not happy, and neither is Malik. She wanted to stay at home with her pals. and he – well, he isn’t saying. I guess it isn’t easy to tell your family that it’s your destiny to be a genie-fighter, and that there are annual rituals you need to perform in order to save lives.

This is essentially a low-fi horror, and all the genre’s tropes are in evidence here. Spooky graveyard? Check. Family secret? Check. Wayward teenage girl possessed by an evil spirit? Check. Nazeer keeps things fresh by transposing the action to a different culture, seamlessly blending Arabic and English to give a clear sense of place. The setting is enhanced by special effects, which – though obviously constrained by budget – are serviceable enough, conveying a feeling of unease.

Akhtar delivers an impressive performance, imbuing Ayisa with a convincing mix of swagger and insecurity. The sound design (by Niroshini Thambar) is also excellent: the jinn’s voice truly seems to emanate from somewhere beyond the here and now.

I do have some quibbles: the script is a little uneven, for example, and there are jarring moments of humour that undermine the building tension, so that – ultimately – the stakes are never really raised. The recorded voices, though well-delivered, are over-used: all too often, I find myself listening to a block of exposition, while looking at a blank or static stage.

Nonetheless, Jinnistan is an entertaining piece of lunchtime theatre, and a fitting end to this round of PPP’s lunchtime offerings.

3 stars

Susan Singfield

All Quiet on the Western Front

05/11/22

Netflix

Erich Maria Remarque’s novel, All Quiet on the Western Front, first published in 1923, was that rarest of things – a runaway bestseller that carried at its heart a powerful anti-war message. In 1930 it was adapted into a movie, directed by Lewis Milestone, and it easily won that year’s Oscar for best film. In 1979, a pedestrian TV version struggled to compete with what had gone before and is now pretty much forgotten. It would be a brave soul indeed who thought they could do anything fresh with the subject.

Hats off then to writer/director Edward Berger, who steps gamely up to the diving board and takes a headlong plunge. Here is a version of the tale that doubles down on the futility of warfare and is able to depict the full visceral horror of life and death in the trenches in ways that Milestone would never have been allowed to in the 1920s.

We begin with a chilling scene of hundreds of dead German soldiers in the aftermath of a battle. We see their uniforms bieng stripped from them, then taken away to be laundered and packaged. Next we encounter our hero, Paul Bäumer (Felix Kammerer), still a naïve teenage schoolboy. He and his classmates are swept up in the idea of being heroes for a just cause and can’t wait to enlist, to do their duty. But all too soon, they arrive on the Western Front, unwittingly wearing the dead men’s uniforms, and begin to realise that all their childish fantasies are about to be torn to pieces by the bloody conflict around them.

The set pieces that follow make for harrowing viewing. The battle scenes are epic in scale, brilliantly captured by James Friend’s cinematography, and Berger doesn’t flinch from depicting scenes of utter carnage. An extended sequence where Paul’s battalion encounters tanks for the first time is particularly memorable – but there are quieter scenes too. Paul’s growing friendship with his comrade ‘Kat’ (Albrect Schuch) is expertly drawn, and the regular cutaways to politician Matthias Erzberger (Daniel Brühl), frantically trying to negotiate a truce as yet another brutal conflict approaches, add notes of suspense. Of course, we all know where this is leading. Volker Bertelmann’s ominous score contributes to the growing sense of unease.

Milestone’s iconic ending (taken from the novel) is so well known, I completely understand why Berger chose not to use it. In this version, he offers a desperate race against time, which may lack the elegance of the original concept, but the utter futility of the situation is once again brought to the fore and it makes for a powerful conclusion.

I can hardly recommend this as an uplifting watch – indeed, there are moments here that make me want to look away. But the novel’s original message is still very much in evidence.

4.2 stars

Philip Caveney

The Good Nurse

29/10/22

Netflix

Films about real-life serial killers usually break down into two distinct groups. There are those that exploit the original story for lurid shock effect and have no real interest in looking for answers. Then there are those that are prepared to delve a little deeper into the circumstances surrounding a series of events. The Good Nurse, directed by Tobias Lindholm, definitely belongs in the latter category. There’s no mistaking the fact that the screenplay – written by Krysty Wilson-Cairns (and based on the book by Charles Graeber) is much more interested in the motivation than the crimes themselves.

The film focuses primarily on the nurse of the title. She’s Amy Laughren (Jessica Chastain), a single mom, struggling to balance her punishing work schedule at a New Jersey hospital with looking after her two young daughters – and she’s suffering from a debilitating heart condition. Put simply, Amy cannot afford to take time off work because she’s not been in her current post long enough to qualify for health insurance. She needs to keep going for another year, if she can.

And then along comes new recruit, Charlie Cullen (Eddie Redmayne), a likeable and considerate workmate, who quickly guesses at Amy’s health issues and does his best to help her out, appearing to care deeply about her difficult situation. The two of them quickly become close friends, with Charlie even helping to look after Amy’s daughters, Maya (Evan McDowell) and Alex (Alix West Lefler), when the going gets particularly tough.

But then there are some unexplained fatalities on the hospital ward, and two investigators, Tim Braun (Noah Emmerich) and Danny Baldwin (Mnmandi Asomugha), show up, asking some worrying questions. Why has Charlie Cullen been repeatedly shunted from hospital to hospital over his long career? Why does he always leave after a spike in deaths? And why do his former employers always seem so reluctant to pursue any questions about him?

This is another true crime story that boggles the mind: The Good Nurse doesn’t hesitate to point the finger of accusation at the American health care system, identifying it as a major enabler of Cullen’s exploits. Indeed, it’s the main reason why a man responsible for one of the highest murder tolls in history remains, ironically, a name that few people are familiar with. Essentially a taut two-hander, the film is as compelling as it is baffling. Chastain is terrific as Laughren, torn between her genuine friendship with Cullen and the dawning realisation that he is not the affable fellow he appears to be. Redmayne keeps his performance understated, only unleashing the full force of his character’s anger in one confrontational interview, yet he still manages to convey the frightening creature that hides behind that bland, smiling exterior.

We still don’t know – and probably never will – what motivated Cullen’s apparently random acts of murder, but The Good Nurse is unflinching in its portrayal of a health system motivated by profit and with scant regard for those who depend upon it for their survival.

4.2 stars

Philip Caveney

Sen Viet Vegan Restaurant

28/10/22

Brougham Place, Edinburgh

For the first time in ages, we have a couple of visitors – and one of them is Our Favourite Vegan (TM), so it seems like the perfect opportunity to try out a relatively recent addition to Edinburgh’s dining scene. Sen Viet Vegan Restaurant occupies the premises where Passorn Thai Restaurant used to stand, and is now resplendent in a very bright – some might say too bright – shade of yellow. It’s early Friday evening and the place is already pretty full – so full, in fact, that we have to wait a good wee while for our pre-booked table to become available. But we’re not in a rush, so we don’t mind. When we’re finally seated, we waste no time in ordering some bottles of Vietnamese beer. Both North and South Vietnam are represented; I find myself favouring the South, although there’s not a lot in it. Both are clean tasting lagers that make the perfect companion to spicy food.

The friendly staff have already warned us that they only have one chef tonight and that there might be a bit of a delay, but we’re happy to sit and sip and chatter.

The appetisers prove to be exactly what we are hoping for. We’ve ordered two Khai Vị Đặc Biệt (sharing platters), which are generously heaped with a variety of appetisers. There are delightfully chewy chunks of salted and chilli-battered tofu, expertly deep-fried crispy spring rolls, piquant tofu summer rolls, vermicelli grilled betal leaves and Ha Long fried cakes (these are traditionally made using squid, but whatever’s in this vegan adaptation captures the fishy flavour perfectly). The appetisers are accompanied by three different dips, including a peanut-based sauce that is absolutely finger-licking tasty and this is a convenient way to sample a wide range of different flavours and textures.

There’s another wait for the main courses but, once again, when they arrive, they are exceptionally good.

I have chosen the Cà Ri Đậu Hũ  – a tofu coconut curry. While it’s really not much to look at, the dish contains chunks of dark tofu, with slow cooked mixed vegetables, tender pieces of potato and sweet potato, onion and garlic, all slow-cooked in coconut cream and lemongrass broth. It’s so good, I have to keep reminding myself not to eat it too quickly. There’s also a bowl of perfectly-cooked sticky rice, which is the ideal accompaniment.

Susan has gone for the Đậu Hũ Kho – a traditional dish that features tofu and mixed vegetables caramelised in a clay pot. Again, it’s absolutely sumptuous, thick and effusive, even though – again – the photos fail to do it justice. The bowls are licked thoroughly clean and we find ourselves too full for pudding.

Based on the food alone, Sen Viet is an unqualified delight – and we’ll certainly be back to see how it fares on nights when they have more than just one chef at work. All in all, Brougham Place – which also boasts Sora Lella Roman Restaurant and Black Rabbit Deli – is fast becoming the essential destination for hungry vegans.

4 stars

Philip Caveney

South Pacific

26/10/22

Festival Theatre, Edinburgh

Rodgers’ and Hammerstein’s classic musical, first performed in 1949, is revived here in a touring production from Chichester Festival Theatre, which is handsomely mounted and features a thirty-strong cast. Peter McIntosh’s impressive set designs are built around a revolving stage and utilise atmospheric back projection, while tables, chairs and other props appear to float magically downwards from the heavens.

We are on a tropical island during the Second World War, where American troops are stationed in preparation for the coming conflict with Japanese invaders. The Tonkinese people of the island have learned to fit in with – and even profit from – their American visitors. Bloody Mary (Joanna Ampil, whose ethereal voice is a highlight of the piece) now runs a flourishing trade in grass skirts, which the troops buy as souvenirs to send back to their families. Meanwhile, long-time resident and plantation owner, Emil de Beque (Julian Ovenden), has been romancing naïve young ensign, Nellie Forbush (Gina Beck), and impulsively proposes to her. She’s all for the idea of marriage – until she discovers that Emile has two children and that his deceased wife was Tonkinese – or ‘coloured’ as she puts it.

The audible gasps of discomfort from the audience at this point are a reminder that South Pacific is very much of its time. There’s been no attempt to adapt the piece for more contemporary audiences. Of course, the message is supposed to be anti-racist – the point is addressed in a song by Lt Joseph Cable (Rob Houchen), who points out that bigotry is handed down through the generations, learned rather than innate – but a contemporary lens might also look upon the exotic ceremonies carried out on the sacred island of Bali Hai as ‘othering’, and wonder why there’s no concern about the unequal relationship between the white plantation owner and his native servants.

Musically, this production has plenty to offer – there’s a fine live orchestra providing sumptuous backing to Divenden’s powerful, almost operatic voice. There are Liat (Sera Maehara)’s elegant dance moves; she seems, at times, to virtually float across the stage. Dougie McMeekin offers nicely-judged comic relief as wheeler-dealer, Luther Billis. And, of course there’s a whole clutch of classic songs, recognisable even to an audience who may not be familiar with the musical itself. The production’s most rousing moments are when the ensemble is belting out spirited pieces such as ‘There Is Nothin’ Like a Dame,’ or ‘I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair.’

If South Pacific has shortcomings they lie in the script, which was originally adapted from a series of short stories by James A Michener. The plodding storyline sometimes feels disconcertingly pedestrian – and too often, we’re fobbed off by being told about something that’s happened offstage, rather than actually being shown it. The final ‘action’ set piece, built around a jungle skirmish, feels particularly sketchy, and the death of an important character is carelessly thrown away.

Still, there’s plenty to like here and judging by the exuberant cheers that greet the final curtain, there are many in tonight’s audience who are thrilled by this trip down memory lane.

3 stars

Philip Caveney

Decision to Leave

26/10/22

Cameo Cinema, Edinburgh

A new release from Park Chan-wook is always a cause for celebration, but anyone expecting the unbridled sexuality of The Handmaiden may be surprised to learn that Decision to Leave is a much more chaste affair. Yes, there’s passion here, but it’s portrayed almost entirely in words (in some cases via a Chinese-Korean translation app) and in discreet sidelong glances.

Workaholic Detective Hae-jun (Park Hae-il) is summoned to investigate the death of a mountain climber who has fallen from a great height. But did the man jump or was he pushed? Suspicion soon falls on his Chinese wife, Seo-rei (Tang Wei), and Hae-jun, who is already suffering from chronic insomnia, starts to spend his nights surveilling her. He follows her around Busan, studies her routines and chronicles her every move. And then he begins to realise that he is falling in love with her and that what began as professional interest is turning into something much more compelling…

This is one of those films where it would be criminal to give too much of the plot away – and besides, the ensuing story is so labyrinthine, so full of unexpected twists and turns, it would be pretty much impossible to do that even if I wanted to. Armchair detectives will have a field day trying to figure out the mysteries wrapped up in this story and I’m fairly certain that very few are likely to guess at the baffling solution to this strange, enigmatic puzzle of a film.

Park Chan-wook’s distinctive visual style – aided and abetted by cinematographer Kin Je-yong – is to the fore throughout and, as ever, he relishes playing tricks on the viewer, constantly tinkering with our perceptions and expectations. Both the leads dazzle in their roles, and are ably supported by a fine cast, particularly by Lee Jung-hyun as Hae-jun’s statistic-obsessed wife, Jung-an – but this is essentially a two-hander.

With a running time of two hours and nineteen minutes, I do occasionally find myself wishing that the pace wasn’t quite so glacial, but the great director has never been one to hurry himself over anything and, despite my reservations, Decision to Leave manages to hold me in a powerful grip right up to its chilling final frame.

4 stars

Philip Caveney