Taking place against the snowy vistas of the Scottish Highlands, Lost at Christmas is the second feature film from writer and director Ryan Hendrick. After both suffering personal setbacks and missing the last train back to Glasgow, Rob and Jen find themselves isolated together for a Christmas adventure. I was lucky enough to chat with lead actor Kenny Boyle about this festive, feel-good film…
Following on from the critical success of his groundbreaking debut God’s Own Country, writer and director Francis Lee revisits the theme of repressed homosexual romance with his semi-biographical drama Ammonite. Set on the blustery shores of Lyme Regis in the 1840s, the plot is loosely inspired by palaeontologist Mary Anning. On his European tour, a wealthy fossil enthusiast arrives in town to visit Mary (Kate Winslet) to discuss her geological findings. His young wife Charlotte (Saoirse Ronan) is suffering from severe melancholia and he decides that the sea air will aid her recovery, so he carries on without her, leaving her in Mary’s care. Despite their stark financial and cultural differences, the pair strike up an endearing friendship, leading to a forbidden love that would impact upon their lives forever.
On his first outing behind the camera, actor turned filmmaker Harry Macqueen crafted an indie hit on a low-budget and played one of the central parts himself. In contrast to this for his sophomore feature, he has brought together two of the finest actors in the business. Relationship drama Supernova stars Colin Firth and Stanley Tucci as husbands Sam and Tusker, whose lives are turned upside down due to the latter’s dementia diagnosis. They embark on a road trip in an old RV whilst coming to terms with their situation, visiting old friends along the way.
Following in the footsteps of his father, the iconic filmmaker David Cronenberg, writer and director Brandon Cronenberg dabbles in the ‘body horror’ sub-genre that his old man pioneered for his grisly sophomore feature Possessor. Revered hitwoman Tasya Vos (Andrea Riseborough) is at the centre of the sci-fi thriller, working for an organisation that uses brain-implant technology to allow assassins to carry out hits whilst inhabiting someone else’s body. For her latest assignment, she must ‘possess’ Colin Tate (Christopher Abbott) to take out his boss John Parse (Sean Bean), the filthy rich head of a data mining corporate empire.
Jennifer Sheridan’s feature debut Rose – A Love Story follows the mysterious life of a couple living in a shadowy cabin in the woods. Husband Sam (Matt Stokoe) and wife Rose (Sophie Rundle) are almost detached from civilisation in their somewhat strained, yet very loving, marriage. He spends his days outdoors, chopping wood for their fire and hunting their dinner, while she stays inside, working on her next book. It transpires that the pair are protecting a dark secret as when they reluctantly take in an unexpected house guest, their secluded refuge comes under severe threat.
Steve McQueen’s work was lauded with much critical acclaim when he directed historical saga 12 Years a Slave. For his latest effort, he tells another important true story of racial prejudice, but this time it’s much closer to home. The first episode of the Small Axe mini-series, Mangrove follows modest restaurateur Frank Crichlow (Shaun Parkes) as he opens a West Indian eatery in the Notting Hill district of West London. His place becomes a lively neighbourhood hub for the black community and after continuous harassment from the local authorities, he is encouraged by Black Panther Movement leader Altheia Jones-Lecointe (Letitia Wright) to make a stand. Their peaceful protest soon descends into chaos, leading to an emotionally-charged trial.
Gillian Jacobs goes back to school in indie comedy I Used to Go Here, written and directed by indie filmmaker Kris Rey. The story centres around Chicago-based author Kate Conklin (Jacobs) who, having just had her debut novel published, is asked to give a guest lecture at the college she had graduated from years earlier. This invite takes her back to the street she once lived on, reconnects her with former professor David (Jemaine Clement), and presents a unique opportunity to relive her youth.
Documentary filmmaker Kitty Green transitions from fact to fiction for her fourth feature The Assistant. Inspired by the Me Too movement, the drama tells a day in the life tale of Jane (Julia Garner), a fresh-faced assistant to an influential figure in the film industry. Feeling isolated and under pressure in a male-dominated environment, she naively turns to Wilcock (Matthew Macfadyen) in the HR department when she suspects untoward behaviour from the powers that be.
With a largely non-professional cast and an improvised script, high school drama Rocks is a daring, some might say risky, third feature from director Sarah Gavron. The London-based plot centres around Shola (Bukky Bakray), a fun-loving teenager whose nickname gives the film its title. On what first appears to be like any other school morning, she wakes up to discover that her mother has absconded, leaving behind only a letter of apology and some cash in an envelope. Fending for herself and her little brother Emmanuel (D’angelou Osei Kissiedu), she is forced to grow up fast and puts on a brave face whilst trying to make ends meet and avoid unwanted attention from the local authorities.