Joseph Stalin-era Soviet Union was cold, callous and colourless at least according to Swedish filmmaker Daniel Espinosa who directs mystery thriller ‘Child 44’, based on Tom Rob Smith’s best-selling novel of the same name. Tom Hardy leads an impressive top-billed cast as disgraced military cop Leo Demidov, who independently heads up an enquiry into a series of vicious child murders that are ignored by a corrupt government. With his wife Raisa (Noomi Rapace) accused of espionage and colleague Vasili (Joel Kinnaman) proving a problem at every turn, he turns to an experienced General Nesterov (Gary Oldman) for assistance in his manhunt, resulting in an intense investigative film enhanced by strong acting and crisp cinematography.
Writer and director Carol Morley presents a coming-of-age story about teenagers in an all-girls school but one that avoids the expected scenarios of the modern teen movie genre. Setting her tale in the late 1960s, it relies on old-fashioned storytelling methods that are suitably accompanied by beautifully bewitching imagery. The plot centres around Lydia Lamb, a mixed-up girl from a broken home played by Game of Thrones’ starlet Maisie Williams. Always in the shadow of her uber-confident best friend Abbie (Florence Pugh), she yearns to discover herself and where her place is within the disciplined, cliquey society she finds herself in. At home, she is teased by her peculiar older brother Kenneth (Joe Cole) and neglected by her agoraphobic mother Eileen (Maxine Peake), which result in a bout of odd behaviour which strangely begins to spread throughout her classmates.