REVIEW: THE BUTLER

CAST

Forest Whitaker (The Last King of Scotland)
Oprah Winfrey (Before Women Had Wings)
David Oyelowo (Rise of The Planet of The Apes)
Elijah Kelley (Take The Lead)
Alex Pettyfer (I Am Number Four)
David Banner (Black Snake Moan)
Mariah Carey (Glitter)
Terrence Howard (Iron Man)
Adriane Lenox (The Blind Side)
Yaya DaCosta (Ugly Betty)
Vanessa Redgrave (Mission: Impossible)
Clarence Williams III (Puprple Rain)
Cuba Gooding, Jr. (Jerry Maguire)
Lenny Kravitz (The Hunger Games)
Colman Domingo (Freedomland)
Robin Williams (The Crazy Ones)
James Marsden (Westworld
Minka Kelly (The Roommate)
Liev Schreiber (The 5th Wave)
Alan Rickman (Dogma)
John Cusack (Identity)
Jane Fonda (Barbarella)
Stephen Rider (Daredevil)
Danny Strong (Buffy)
Jesse Williams  (The Cabin In The Woods)
Nelsan Ellis (True Blood)

In 2009, an elderly Cecil Gaines recounts his life story, while waiting at the White House to meet the newly inaugurated president. In 1926, at the age of seven, Gaines is raised on a cotton plantation in Macon, Georgia, by his sharecropping parents. One day, the farm’s owner, Thomas Westfall, rapes Cecil’s mother, Hattie Pearl. Cecil’s father confronts Westfall, and is shot dead. Cecil is taken in by Annabeth Westfall, the estate’s caretaker and owner’s grandmother, who trains Cecil as a house servant.In 1937, at age eighteen, he leaves the plantation and his mother, who has been mute since the incident and presumably dies of old age by the time the plantation shuts down. In desperation from hunger, Cecil breaks into a hotel pastry shop, elects sympathy in the elderly master servant, Maynard, asks for a job and is, unexpectedly, hired. He learns advanced serving and mostly interpersonal skills from Maynard, who, after several years, recommends Cecil for a position in a Washington, D.C. hotel. While working at the D.C. hotel, Cecil meets and marries Gloria, and the couple has two sons: Louis and Charlie. In 1957, Cecil is hired by the White House during Dwight D. Eisenhower’s administration. White House maître d’hôtel Freddie Fallows shows Cecil around, introducing him to head butler Carter Wilson and co-worker James Holloway. At the White House, Cecil witnesses Eisenhower’s reluctance to use troops to enforce school desegregation in the South, then his resolve to uphold the law by racially integrating Little Rock Central High School in Arkansas.The Gaines family celebrates Cecil’s new occupation with their neighbors, Howard and Gina. Louis, the elder son, becomes a first generation university student at Fisk University in Tennessee, although Cecil feels that the South is too volatile; he wanted Louis to enroll at Howard University instead. Louis joins a student program led by Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) activist James Lawson, which leads to a nonviolent sit-in at a segregated diner, where he is arrested. Furious, Cecil confronts Louis for disobeying him. Gloria, who feels that Cecil puts his job ahead of her, descends into alcoholism and an affair with the Gaines’s neighbor, Howard.In 1961, after John F. Kennedy’s inauguration, Louis and a dozen others are attacked by members of the Ku Klux Klan while on a freedom ride to Birmingham, Alabama. Louis is shown participating in the 1963 Birmingham Children’s Crusade, where dogs and water cannons were used to stop the marchers, one of the movement’s actions which inspired Kennedy to deliver a national address proposing the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Several months after the speech, Kennedy is assassinated. His successor, Lyndon B. Johnson, enacts the transformative legislation into law. As a goodwill gesture, Jackie Kennedy gives Cecil one of the former president’s neckties before she leaves the White House.Louis is later shown participating in the 1965 Selma Voting Rights Movement, which inspired Johnson to demand that Congress enact the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965. Johnson also gives Cecil a tie bar. In the late 1960s, after civil rights activist Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination, Louis visits and tells his family that he has joined the Black Panthers. Outraged, Cecil orders Louis and his girlfriend, Carol, to leave his house. Louis is soon arrested, and Carter bails him out. Cecil becomes aware of President Richard Nixon’s plans to suppress the movement.The Gaines’ other son, Charlie, confides to Louis that he plans to join the Army in the war in Vietnam. Louis announces that he won’t attend Charlie’s funeral if he is killed there because while Louis sees Americans as multiple races, Charlie sees the country as one race. A few months later, Charlie is killed and buried at Arlington National Cemetery. Louis does not attend. However, when the Black Panthers resort to violence in response to racial confrontations, Louis leaves the organization and returns to college, earning his master’s degree in political science and eventually running for a seat in Congress.Cecil repeatedly confronts his supervisor at the White House over the unequal pay and career advancement provided to the black White House staff. With President Ronald Reagan’s eventual support, Cecil prevails and his professional reputation grows to the point that he and his wife are invited by President and Nancy Reagan to be guests at a state dinner. At the dinner and afterwards, Cecil becomes increasingly uncomfortable with the class divisions in the White House. Finally, after witnessing Reagan’s refusal to support economic sanctions against Apartheid South Africa, Cecil resigns. Cecil and Gloria visit the defunct, abandoned Georgia plantation where he was raised. Gloria agitates for Cecil to mend his relationship with Louis. Realizing his son’s actions are heroic, Cecil joins Louis at a Free South Africa Movement protest against South African apartheid, and they are arrested and jailed together.In 2008, Gloria dies shortly before Barack Obama is elected as the nation’s first African-American president, a milestone which leaves Cecil and Louis in awe. Two months, two weeks and one day later, Cecil prepares to meet the newly inaugurated President at the White House, wearing the articles he had received from presidents Kennedy and Johnson. Stephen W. Rochon approaches Cecil and tells him the president is ready and prepares to show him the way to the Oval Office. Cecil tells him that he knows the way, and, as he walks down the hallway, the voices of presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson are heard, then President Barack Obama’s famous “Yes we can” quote is heard as Cecil walks through the doors of the Oval Office.Some superb performances here noteably from Forrest Whittaker giving one of his best performances as The Butler himself and Operah Winfrey giving her best performance ever as his loyal wife with excellent support from Terrance Howard and John Cusack, Robin Williams, James Marsden and Alan Rickman give good cameo appearances as presidents Nixon, Eisenhower, Kennedy and Reagan respectively with Jane Fonda also appearing as Nancy Reagan. Yes it gets very sentimental but this is ultimately a powerful piece of filmmaking from Lee Daniels the director of Precious.

 

 

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REVIEW: MISSION IMPOSSIBLE 1-4

CAST
Tom Cruise (Vanilla Sky)
Jon Voight (Pearl Harbor)
Emmanuelle Beart (8 Women)
Henry Czerny (The Exorcism of Emily Rose)
Jean Reno (Leon)
Ving Rhames (Julia X)
Kristin Scott Thomas (The Golden Compass)
Vanessa Redgrave (Atonement)
Emilio Estevez (Rated X)
Several years after the events of the series, Jim Phelps and his team, the Impossible Missions Force, are assigned to retrieve the IMF non-official cover list from the American embassy in Prague. Their mission fails: Phelps is shot point blank, his wife Claire dies in a car bombing, and the rest of the team except agent Ethan Hunt are eliminated by an unknown assassin. Meeting later with IMF director Eugene Kittridge, Hunt learns the job was a setup designed to lure out a mole within IMF, whom IMF believes to be in contact with an arms dealer known as “Max” as part of “Job 314.” As Hunt is the only member left, Kittridge suspects him of being the mole, and Hunt flees.
Returning to the Prague safe house, Hunt realizes “Job 314” refers to Bible verse Job 3:14, with “Job” as the mole’s code name. Claire arrives at the safe house, explaining she escaped the bomb after Phelps aborted the mission. Hunt arranges a meeting with Max, where he warns her that the list she possesses has a tracking device that will lure the CIA there, and promises to deliver the real list for $10 million and the identity of Job. Hunt, Max, and her agents escape just as a CIA team arrives.
Hunt recruits two disavowed IMF agents: computer expert Luther Stickell and pilot Franz Krieger. They infiltrate CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, steal the real list, and flee to London. Kittridge detects the theft and has Hunt’s mother and uncle falsely arrested for drug trafficking; he provides wide media coverage of it, forcing Hunt to call Kittridge. Hunt times the call to allow the CIA to trace him to London before hanging up, but when he is done, Hunt is surprised to find Phelps nearby. Phelps recounts how he survived the shooting, naming Kittridge as the mole who set them up in Prague. Though he verbally agrees, Hunt realizes Phelps is the mole and Max’s “Job”. Hunt also suspects Krieger as the assassin of the other IMF members on the Prague job, but remains unsure whether Claire was involved. Hunt arranges with Max to exchange the list aboard the TGV high-speed train to Paris the next day.
On the train, Hunt remotely directs Max to the list. Max verifies the list and gives Hunt the keycode to a briefcase containing his payment along with Job in the baggage car. Ethan calls Claire and tells her to meet him there. Meanwhile, Stickell uses a jamming device to prevent Max from uploading the data to her servers. When Claire reaches the baggage car, she finds Phelps, and tells him Ethan will arrive shortly. She questions whether killing Ethan is a good idea, since they’ll need a fall guy for the money. To Claire’s surprise, Phelps reveals himself to be Ethan in disguise, exposing her as a co-conspirator. Moments later, the real Phelps arrives and takes the money at gunpoint. Hunt dons a pair of video glasses that relays Phelps’ existence to Kittridge, proving Hunt innocent of being Job and the mole.
With his cover blown, Phelps tries to kill Ethan but Claire intervenes and Phelps kills her for sleeping with Hunt in London. He then tries to escape with the money by climbing to the roof of the train, where Krieger is waiting with a helicopter with a tether. Hunt and Phelps fight atop the speeding train. At one point, Hunt connects the tether to the train itself, forcing Krieger to pilot the helicopter into Channel Tunnel after the train. Hunt places a piece of explosive chewing gum — a relic of the Prague mission — on the outside of Krieger’s helicopter windshield, killing Phelps and Krieger. Aboard the train, Kittridge arrests Max and recovers the list before it can be sent. Afterward, Kittridge reinstates Hunt and Stickell as IMF agents, but Hunt resigns. As he flies home, a flight attendant approaches him and asks, through a coded phrase, if he is ready to take on a new mission.
Fabulous cast, especailly strong support from Henry Czerny, Jean Reno and Jon Voight, and a great plot which alas was too complex for some but which weaves a web of deceit and intrigue as it unravels.
CAST
Tom Cruise (Rain Man)
Dougray Scott (Enigma)
Thandie Newton (Crash)
Ving Rhames (Entrapment)
Richard Roxburgh (Van Helsing)
Brendan Gleeson (Troy)
Rade Serbedzija (Stigmata)
William Mapother (Swordfish)
Dominic Purcell (The Flash 2014)
Ethan Hunt, while vacationing, is alerted by the IMF that someone has used his identity to assist Russian bio-chemical expert Dr. Vladimir Nekhorvich of Biocyte Pharmaceuticals to enter the United States, only to kill him in a subsequent plane crash. Nekhorvich, an old friend of Ethan, had forewarned the IMF of his arrival, planning to deliver a new bioweapon, Chimera, and its cure, Bellerophon, both of which he was forced to develop by Biocyte, into the IMF’s hands. With his death, IMF is worried that the virus is out in the open, believing that rogue IMF agent Sean Ambrose is responsible. IMF assigns Ethan to recover it. Ethan is told that he can use two members of his team to help him, but the third person to help him must be Nyah Nordoff-Hall, a professional thief presently operating in Seville, Spain, as she will be able to get close to Ambrose, being an ex-girlfriend.
After recruiting Nyah, Ethan meets his team, computer expert Luther Stickell and pilot Billy Baird, in Sydney, Australia, where Biocyte laboratories are located along with Ambrose’s headquarters. As Ethan and the others stake out Biocyte, Nyah gets close to Ambrose and begins to work him for information related to the Chimera virus. At a horse racing event, Ambrose quietly meets with Biocyte’s CEO, John C. McCloy, and shows him a video of the Chimera virus affecting one of Nekhorvich’s colleagues, taken from Biocyte, so he can blackmail McCloy into cooperating with them. Nyah is able to pocket the video footage long enough to transfer it to Ethan and his team, who learn that the Chimera virus has a 20-hour dormant period before it causes death through mass destruction of the victim’s red blood cells. Bellerophon can save the victim only if used within that 20-hour window.
The IMF team kidnaps McCloy and learns that Nekhorvich had actually injected himself with Chimera, the only way he could smuggle the virus from Biocyte, and had all the known samples of Bellerophon, now presently in Ambrose’s hands. Ambrose had forced McCloy to sell him the virus for £37,000,000 in exchange for the samples of Bellerophon. Ethan’s team plans to break into Biocyte and destroy the virus. Ambrose, posing as Ethan, tricks Nyah into revealing Ethan’s plan. Ambrose secures Nyah and prepares to raid Biocyte himself to secure the virus. Ethan is able to destroy all but one sample of the virus before Ambrose interrupts him, and a firefight ensues. Ethan learns that Ambrose is holding Nyah and stops firing, during which Ambrose orders Nyah to retrieve the last sample. When she does so, she injects herself with it, thus preventing Ambrose from simply killing her to get it. As Ambrose takes Nyah and Ethan escapes from the laboratory in the ensuing gun battle between Ambrose’s men and Biocyte security, Ethan starts a 20-hour countdown before the virus takes over Nyah’s body.
Ambrose opts to let Nyah wander the streets of Sydney in a daze, intending to trigger a Chimera pandemic in Australia, and orders McCloy to effectively hand over enough control of Biocyte to make him the majority shareholder; Ambrose’s plan is now to make a fortune when prices of Biocyte’s stock skyrocket due to demand for Bellerophon. Ethan’s team is able to locate and infiltrate the meeting, stealing the samples of Bellerophon while taking out many of Ambrose’s men. Luther and Billy locate Nyah, who has wandered to a cliff side, intent on killing herself to prevent Chimera from spreading. As the two IMF agents bring Nyah to Ethan, he and Ambrose engage in a fist fight. With little time left on the 20-hour countdown, Ethan finally gains the upper hand over Ambrose and kills him, and Luther injects Nyah with Bellerophon. IMF clears Nyah’s criminal record, and Ethan continues his vacation with her in Sydney.
If you like Mission Impossible then you’ll not be disappointed with this action packed film and if you have the others in this series then you’ll appreciate the efforts put in to improve plots, characters and special effects but each one for their time and budget stand on their own.
CAST
Tom Cruise (Vanilla Sky)
Philip Seymour Hoffman (Red Dragon)
Ving Rhames (Dark Blue)
Billy Crudup (Watchmen)
Michelle Monaghan (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang)
Jonathan Rhys Meyers (Dracula)
Keri Russell (Dawn of The Planet of the Apes)
Maggie Q (Divergent)
Simon Pegg (Shaun of The Dead)
Eddie Marsan (Hancock)
Laurence Fishburne (Hannibal)
Carla Gallo (Bones)
Tracy Middendorf (Scream: The Series)
Greg Grunberg (Alias)
Ethan Hunt has retired from field work for the IMF and instead trains new recruits while settling down with his fiancée, Julia Meade, a nurse who is unaware of Ethan’s true job. Ethan is approached by fellow IMF agent John Musgrave about a mission to rescue one of Ethan’s protégés, Lindsey Farris, who was captured while investigating arms dealer Owen Davian. Musgrave has already prepared a team for Ethan: Declan Gormley (Jonathan Rhys Meyers), Zhen Lei, and his old partner Luther Stickell.
The team rescues Lindsey and collects two damaged laptop computers. As they flee via helicopter, Ethan discovers an explosive pellet implanted in Lindsey’s head. Before he can disable it, it goes off and kills her. Back in the U.S., Ethan and Musgrave are reprimanded by IMF Director Theodore Brassel. Ethan learns that Lindsey mailed him a postcard before her capture and discovers a magnetic microdot under the stamp.
IMF technician Benji Dunn recovers enough data from the laptops to determine Davian will be in Vatican City to obtain a mysterious object called the “Rabbit’s Foot”. Ethan plans a mission to capture Davian without seeking official approval. Before leaving, he and Julia have an impromptu wedding at the hospital’s chapel. The team successfully infiltrates Vatican City and captures Davian.
On the flight back to the U.S., Davian threatens to kill Ethan and his loved ones. Ethan then threatens to drop Davian out of the plane, during which Davian overhears Luther calling Ethan by his first name. After landing, Ethan learns that the microdot contains a video of Lindsey warning that she believes Brassel is working with Davian. The convoy taking Davian across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge–Tunnel is suddenly attacked, and Davian escapes. Fearing for Julia’s safety, Ethan races to the hospital, only to find she has already been taken. Davian gives Ethan 48 hours to recover the Rabbit’s Foot in exchange for Julia’s life, but Ethan is soon captured by the IMF.
Musgrave takes part in Ethan’s interrogation but discreetly mouths that the Rabbit’s Foot is located in Shanghai, China, and provides Ethan with the means to escape. Ethan and his team raid the building where the Rabbit’s Foot is secured, and inform Davian that they have the Rabbit’s Foot. Ethan, delivering the Rabbit’s Foot alone, is forced to take a tranquilizer. As he comes to, he realizes a micro-explosive is implanted in his head. The restrained Ethan sees Davian apparently holding Julia at gunpoint (the full scene opens the movie). Despite Ethan asserting that he brought the real Rabbit’s Foot, Davian shoots Julia and leaves.
Musgrave arrives and explains that the woman killed by Davian was not Julia, but Davian’s head of security in a mask, executed for failing to protect Davian in Vatican City. The Julia-mask was used to force Ethan to confirm the authenticity of the Rabbit’s Foot. The real Julia is alive and held as Davian’s hostage. Musgrave reveals himself as the mole, having arranged for Davian to acquire the Rabbit’s Foot to sell to a terrorist group so the IMF would have reason to launch a preemptive strike. Musgrave asks Ethan about the microdot Lindsey sent, wanting to know if Lindsay had compromised him. To convince Ethan to cooperate, Musgrave dials his phone for Ethan to hear Julia’s voice to confirm she is alive. Ethan bites on Musgrave’s hand and knocks him unconscious, freeing himself, and uses Musgrave’s phone (with Benji’s help) to track down the location of Musgrave’s last call. Ethan finds Davian and pushes him into the path of a truck, but not before Davian triggers the countdown of the micro-explosive. Freeing Julia, Ethan instructs her to electrocute him in order to deactivate the explosive, and then revive him. He also instructs her in using a gun for her protection. While reviving Ethan, Julia fatally shoots Musgrave. She successfully revives Ethan, and he explains his true IMF career to her.
Back in the U.S., Brassel congratulates Ethan Hunt as he leaves for his honeymoon with Julia. Ethan is unsure if he will return to the IMF. Brassel promises that he will tell Ethan what the Rabbit’s Foot is if Ethan will promise to return. Ethan smiles and walks off with Julia.
Tom Cruise on top form, great stunts, edge of seat movie well paced and kept my interest throughout can recommend highly.
CAST
Tom Cruise (Legend)
Paula Patton (Deja Vu)
Simon Pegg (Star Trek)
Jeremy Renner (The Bourne Legacy)
Léa Seydoux (Spectre)
Ving Rhames (Julia X)
Tom Wilkinson (Batman Begins)
Michelle Monaghan (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang)
Michael Nyqvist (The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo)
Ilia Volok (Power Rangers Wild Force)
Josh Holloway (Lost)
In Budapest to intercept a courier working for an individual code-named “Cobalt”, IMF agent Trevor Hanaway is killed by assassin Sabine Moreau. Hanaway’s team leader, Jane Carter, and newly promoted field agent Benji Dunn extract Ethan Hunt and his source, Bogdan, from a Moscow prison. Ethan is recruited to lead Jane and Benji to infiltrate secret Moscow Kremlin archives and locate files identifying Cobalt. During the mission, someone broadcasts across the IMF frequency, alerting the Russians to Ethan’s team. Although Benji and Jane escape, a bomb destroys the Kremlin and SVR agent Anatoly Sidorov arrests Ethan, suspecting him as a key player in the attack.
The IMF Secretary extracts Ethan from Moscow and informs him that the Russians have called the attack an undeclared act of war, forcing the U.S. President to initiate “Ghost Protocol”, a black operation contingency that disavows the IMF. Ethan and his team are to take the blame for the attack, but will be allowed to escape from government custody in order to track down Cobalt. Before Ethan can escape, the Secretary is killed by Russian security forces led by Sidorov, leaving Hunt and intelligence analyst William Brandt to find their own way out. Brandt identifies Cobalt as Kurt Hendricks, a Swedish-born Russian nuclear strategist[8] who plans to start a nuclear war. Hendricks bombed the Kremlin in order to acquire a Russian nuclear launch-control device; however, he now needs the activation codes from the Budapest courier in order to launch nuclear missiles at the United States.
The exchange between Moreau and Hendricks’ right-hand man, Wistrom, is due to take place in the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. There, Ethan’s team separately convince Moreau and Wistrom that they have made the exchange with one another. However, Moreau identifies Brandt as an agent. While Ethan chases Wistrom—only to realize that he is actually Hendricks in disguise, allowing him to escape with the codes—Jane detains Moreau. Moreau attempts to kill Benji, and Jane kicks her out a window to her death. Brandt accuses Jane of compromising the mission for revenge against Moreau, but Ethan accuses Brandt of keeping secrets from them, as he has demonstrated skills decidedly atypical of a mere analyst. While Ethan seeks more information from Bogdan, Brandt confides to Benji and Jane that he was assigned as a security detail to Ethan and his wife Julia while they were on vacation in Croatia. While Brandt was on patrol, Julia was killed by a Serbian hit squad, prompting Ethan to pursue and kill them before he was caught by the Russians and sent to prison.
Bogdan and his arms-dealer cousin inform Ethan that Hendricks will be in Mumbai to facilitate the sale of a defunct Soviet military satellite to Indian telecommunications entrepreneur Brij Nath. The satellite could then be used to transmit the launch codes for nuclear-tipped missiles. While Brandt and Benji infiltrate the server room to deactivate the satellite, Carter gets Nath to reveal the satellite override code. But Hendricks has anticipated Ethan’s plan and infects Nath’s servers with a virus before sending a signal from a television broadcasting tower to a Russian Delta III-class nuclear submarine in the Pacific to fire at San Francisco. Ethan pursues Hendricks and the launch device while the other team-members attempt to bring the broadcast station back online. Ethan and Hendricks fight over the launch-control device before Hendricks jumps to his death with it to ensure success. Benji kills Wistrom, allowing Brandt to restore power to the station and enabling Ethan to deactivate the missile, while the fatally wounded Hendricks witnesses the failure of his plan as he dies. Sidorov happens upon the scene in time to see what Ethan has done and realizes that the IMF is innocent of bombing the Kremlin.
The team reconvenes weeks later in Seattle with Ethan meeting up with Luther Stickell and accepting a new mission. Brandt refuses at first and confesses to Ethan about being assigned to protect Julia and failing. However, once Ethan reveals that both Julia’s death and the murder of Serbians were actually faked in order to infiltrate the Moscow prison while protecting Julia, a relieved Brandt accepts the mission. Julia, alive, smiles at Ethan from far away.
Brad bird delivered in this thrilling breathtaking and heart pounding instalment of the Mission Impossible franchise.

REVIEW: ATONEMENT

CAST

James McAvoy (X-Men: Apocalypse)
Keira Knightley (The Duchess)
Saoirse Ronan (The Lovely Bones)
Romola Garai (I Capture The Castle)
Vanessa Redgrave (Nip/Tuck)
Harriet Walter (Babel)
Patrick Kennedy (Mr. Holmes)
Brenda Blethyn (The Storyteller)
Juno Temple (Horns)
Benedict Cumberbatch (Star Trek Into Darkness)
Nonso Anozie (Cinderella)
Alfie Allen (Game of Thrones)

In 1935, Briony Tallis is a 13-year-old girl from a wealthy English family and has just finished writing a play. Briony attempts to stage the play with her three visiting cousins, twin boys and their teenage sister, Lola; however, they get bored and decide to go swimming. Briony stays behind and witnesses a significant moment of sexual tension between her older sister, Cecilia, and Robbie Turner, a servant’s son (a man that Briony has a childish infatuation with). Robbie returns home and writes several drafts of letters to Cecilia, including one that is explicitly sexual and erotically charged (specifically, it uses the word “massive pudenda”). Initially written for the sake of humour, he does not intend to send it and sets it aside. On his way to join the Tallis family for dinner, Robbie asks Briony to deliver his letter, only to later realise that he has mistakenly given her the prurient draft. Briony secretly reads the letter and is simultaneously disgusted and jealous. She tells Lola of its contents and they call Robbie a “sex maniac” while debating whether to turn him into the police. That afternoon, Lola and her younger brothers meet a friend of the Tallis family, a wealthy chocolate manufacturer named Paul Marshall. Though he is much older than her, he excites Lola by flirting with her and treating her like an adult.

That evening, Cecilia confronts Robbie about the letter which she has since read. They meet in the library where they make love and tenderly confess their love for one another. During the act, Briony watches through the partially open door and her confused emotions about Robbie become heightened. At dinner it is revealed that Lola’s twin brothers have run away; a search party is sent out and Briony goes off alone into the woods looking for them. She eventually stumbles upon a man running away from apparently raping Lola. Lola claims that she does not know the identity of her attacker, but then claims it was Robbie after Briony suggests that it must have been the “sex maniac” who attacked her. In a fit of pique, the still-hurt Briony tells everyone (including the police) that she saw Robbie commit the act. She shows Robbie’s shocking letter to her mother and the police. Everyone believes Briony’s story except for Cecilia and Robbie’s mother; Robbie is arrested and sent to prison.
Four years later, Robbie is released from prison on condition that he join the army. He is assigned to A Company, 1st Battalion, Royal Sussex Regiment and sent to France, where he is separated from his unit and attempts to return to them at Dunkirk on foot. He is then shown reuniting with Cecilia (who has not spoken with her family since the incident) in London six months earlier, where they renew their love before he is shipped off to the French front. Briony, now 18, has joined Cecilia’s old nursing corps at St. Thomas’s in London because she wants to be of some practical use to society after giving up an offer she received from Cambridge. Her attempts at contacting her sister go unanswered as Cecilia cannot forgive her for Robbie’s unjust imprisonment. Robbie, gravely ill and wounded, finally arrives at the beaches of Dunkirk where he waits to be evacuated.
Sometime later, Briony—at last fully understanding the consequences of her false accusation—visits the now-married Cecilia and Robbie to apologise to them directly. However, her apologies are rather weak and ineffectual; Cecilia coldly replies that she will never forgive her, while Robbie, in a rage that almost becomes physical, confronts Briony and demands that she immediately tell her family and the authorities the truth. Briony admits she knew all along that the real rapist was Paul Marshall, but that Lola cannot testify against him in a court of law because they have recently been married.
Decades later, an elderly Briony (now a published author) gives an interview about her latest book, a semi-autobiographical novel called “Atonement.” She reveals that she is dying of vascular dementia and states that this last book is one she has been working on for most of her adult life. Briony confesses that the book’s ending (in which she apologises to a married Cecilia and Robbie) is fictional: Cecilia and Robbie were never married and never saw each other again once he left for war. In reality, Robbie died at Dunkirk of septicemia while awaiting evacuation and Cecilia died a few months later as one of the flood victims in the Balham tube station bombing during The Blitz. Briony hopes that by reuniting them in fiction she can give them the happy ending they always deserved. The last scene of the movie shows a happy Cecilia and Robbie together once again as imagined by Briony.
It is a delightful film, well paced, with a beautiful background, strong emotions and remarquable actors. I really enjoyed it and highly recommend it.

REVIEW: VENUS

CAST

Peter O’ Toole (Lawrence of Arabia)
Jodie Whittaker (Broadchurch)
Leslie Phillips (The Jackal)
Vanessa Redgrave (Nip/Tuck)
Richard Griffiths (Harry Potter)
Cathryn Bradshaw (Like Minds)
Tom Mison (Sleepy Hollow)

The plot concerns Maurice (Peter O’Toole), an elderly actor who finds himself increasingly attracted to his friend Ian’s great-niece Jessie (Jodie Whittaker) while simultaneously finding himself in deteriorating health due to prostate cancer. Maurice’s friend describes the great-niece as a trouble maker and a nuisance, but Maurice discovers that Jessie warms up to him when he starts interacting with her. He takes her to the National Gallery in London to view his favourite painting, the Rokeby Venus, by the Spanish artist Diego Velázquez.
Jessie had expressed interest in modelling (Maurice initially mis-hears this as “yodelling”) and Maurice arranges for Jessie to model nude for an art class. As a result of Jessie posing for the art class, and inspired by his favourite painting, Maurice decides to give Jessie the nickname “Venus”. Maurice and Jessie develop a passive/aggressive relationship over the course of the film. Maurice is forward in terms of his attraction towards Jessie while Jessie occasionally indulges his whims to a limited extent, such as touching her hand and smelling her neck, but also retracts the indulgences when she feels that he has gone too far. The plot of the film revolves around the evolving friendship or relationship between the two characters. For Maurice, this appears to be the last attempt at something approaching a love life, as his prostate operation has left him impotent. For Jessie, it is less clear what she sees in Maurice. During the course of the film we see her do everything from exploiting him (trying to get him to buy her presents, trying to use his flat to have sex with a boy), taking care of him, flirting with him, and rejecting him sexually to engaging with him as a friend. During the course of the film we learn that she has been rejected by her mother and great-uncle for her promiscuous life style; it is implied that she is drawn to Maurice because he does not judge her as harshly as her family members have.
The plot comes to a head when Jessie becomes involved with a boy. The two young lovers convince Maurice to take a walk so that they can have sex. Maurice initially obliges, but returns to kick them out of his flat. A scuffle ensues and the boy knocks down Maurice, injuring him. Jessie leaves with the boy but she later returns to check on Maurice. When the paramedics arrive, Maurice claims he cannot remember who attacked him, much to Jessie’s surprise. Then Maurice calls for “Venus” to take care of him. Jessie, remorseful, agrees to look after Maurice. Some time later, after Maurice has at least partly recovered, he takes Jessie to the seaside at Whitstable in Kent.[2] As they sit down by the water Maurice says to Jessie “Now, we can really talk”, and dies, leaning on her. At the memorial services, Jessie meets Maurice’s ex-wife Valerie (Vanessa Redgrave), who could not find satisfaction in Maurice’s love life either. The last scene shows Jessie and others posing as models for the Venus character.
This film is amazing. The acting is superb and story very moving. It manages to be happy, sad, funny and uplifting all at once. The ‘disturbing’ moments work and are integral to the story.