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Krampus (2015) movie review


The trailers were deceptive, at first anyway. A family gather for Christmas, the youngest son tearing up his letter to Santa Claus in anger after his cousins embarrass him at the dining table and cause a massive argument. Then the power cuts out and a snowstorm covers the house. What’s with the creepy snowmen that have shown up in the garden? Why must the fire be kept hot at all times? Who is Krampus?

That last question I can answer without spoiling things. Krampus is the anti-Santa, a manifestation of everything that Santa Claus stands opposite to. There, nice and simple. As for the creepy snowmen and the other untold horrors that appear? I’ll let you discover them for yourself.

Krampus has a number of things going for it, not least the championing of mostly practical effects over excessive CGI. The CGI that does appear is used sparingly and in deference to the story rather than an attempt at cutting costs or just doing CGI because it’s quote unquote easier to do than a practical effect.

I’m a big fan of this approach to effects as it gives the threat a tangible feel. As impressive as CGI is these days, unless you’re Andy Serkis it’s difficult making your brain believe what you’re seeing on the screen is real and not just a bunch of pixels. When the horrors start to build you actually feel as though this is something that could happen, no matter how far fetched it actually is. Practical effects, my friends. Don’t knock them.

I also liked the German grandmother who rarely speaks English. At first I assumed it was to be a running joke, that she was speaking German and everybody else just understood what she was saying. This assumption was quickly blown out of the water, but her presence is enjoyable all the same. Without her we wouldn’t have any idea who this Krampus guy actually is. We’re not the most enlightened bunch in the English speaking world, I’ll say that much. The Krampus legend is, in reality, an incredibly scary proposition, and something I’d recommend reading up on.

On the other hand, approaching the film with no real clue about the Krampus legend is probably a good thing. It leads to a fair amount of tension and surprises throughout, and I feel that some of this would have been lost had I known more about this creature’s evil ways.

Tonally we’re in Gremlins territory, a mashup of horror and comedy. Krampus doesn’t reach the same heights as that 80s classic, but then not much does. The main stars, Adam Scott, Toni Collette, Davied Koechner, Allison Tolman and Conchata Ferrell, all contribute towards making this family feel real, more so as events develop and they find themselves heading further down the rabbit hole. Antagonism gives way to bonding as the circumstances become more hopeless.

Despite the horror overtones this the underlying but totally genuine message that you can take away from Krampus. Family may annoy you at times, but when you’re being hunted by a Christmas demon, sometimes they’re all you’ve got.

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989) movie review


The 1980s, the decade in which Chevy Chase could do no wrong. It was also the decade that spawned the National Lampoon’s Vacation series of movies, where the Griswold family enjoy a seasonal vacation and bad things just kind of… happen. And not just occasionally – with frequent abandon. He’s not as blatantly accident prone as an Inspector Clouseau, but bad things always seem to happen where Clark Griswold is involved. Some of it is his own doing – trying to overtake a slow moving lorry in icy conditions is never going to end well, but for the most part he is a very unfortunate victim of circumstance.

Unlike the prevalence in the modern day for comedies to focus on gross-out humour and childish jokes focused on body functions, Christmas Vacation takes its cues from cinema’s slapstick past whilst bringing things up to date with that slightly anarchic 80s edge. A moderately amusing reference to the Friday The 13th series and a close reference to a key swimming pool-related scene from Fast Times at Ridgemont High place this firmly in the 80s comedy canon, but if you’re well versed in your knowledge of cinema then you won’t be left wondering what all the fuss is about when other people laugh at those moments.

Christmas Vacation throws together all of the traditional family strife that afflicts people over the festive season. Annoying relatives, stresses over the decorations, concerns about the Christmas meal. Despite the frequent moments of amusement the script feels very much like an array of vignettes stitched together to form a loose narrative. There isn’t the family strife as seen in John Hughes’ Home Alone, and you can’t help wondering if it would have been better had they focused more on the inevitable frustrations of having more than 10 people living together under one roof over the Christmas period. But then, it’s not as if the Griswold’s home is all that small – a classic example of the carefree lifestyle of middle America.

Eagle eyed fans may notice not only a young Juliette Lewis as daughter Audrey, but The Big Bang Theory’s Johnny Galecki also appears as son Rusty. More concerning is the appearance of Randy Quaid as cousin Eddie, a man who lives in a camper van with his white trash family. He’s a force of nature, one not averse to kidnapping Clark’s grumpy boss because he seemingly has no concept of the law or boundaries. In the “exasperated looks” category, Beverly D’Angelo wins by a clear margin as Clark’s long-suffering wife Ellen. She is an incredibly understanding person and totally at odds with the expected “shrieking banshee” that most movie wives are stereotyped as.

It’s not Chase’s best film from the decade – that accolade should be bestowed on Fletch or, at a stretch, The Three Amigos – but it’s a perfectly apt Christmas movie even if Clark’s over-reliance on his Christmas bonus is perhaps a little self-centred. Still, it has its fair share of laughs and despite any misgivings about the story structure it’s a film that can easily be enjoyed during the festive period with no brain power required.

White Turnips Make It Hard To Sleep (2011) movie review


Rachel Lang continues exploring the life of Ana Osch in this second part of a film trilogy focusing on the character. This is another short, running slightly longer than For You I Will Fight at just shy of 30 minutes. The final part, Baden Baden, is a full feature length story which I’ve no doubt I’ll be reviewing in due course.

Some time has passed since Ana was involved in army training. She is a little older, a little wiser, to borrow a quote from Wayne’s World 2. In fact she’s ideally placed to knock a few military youths down a couple of pegs after they hassle her and another girl on a train journey via Brussels.

This time Ana is not concerned about STD’s, rather faulty pregnancy tests. She’s also developed a hobby and interest in clay sculpting. In terms of metaphor, this nicely places her life in a state of flux, but one that can be controlled and molded to suit her needs. I do appreciate a good metaphor.

The most concerning part of the film is the male friend/boyfriend of one of Ana’s friends. Not only does he have a weird hair style – bald eagle meets sideburns – but asks for fizzy water. FIZZY WATER. Unbelievable. Nobody in their right mind asks for fizzy water. Ever. Clearly he is some form of European dandy. His hairstyle and interest in fizzy water seals it.

There’s more room to breathe in this story when compared to For You I Will Fight. That’s partly to do with the slightly increased running time, but also because the story has more scope to it than that very self-contained world. There is opportunity to explore life’s little moments, those periods that we tend to forget over time but all add up to our combined life experience. These are interspersed with examples of wider standout moments that tend to live on in the memory – house parties and the like.

Ana’s life has moved on to the angst she was feeling in that first film. She is in a long distance relationship with a man who has questionable taste in fashion. And it’s not as if I can blame it on them being in Belgium. Well okay, maybe a little. That relationship is fading and the film explores, in general terms, her acceptance of the fact that it will likely have to end.

There are stranger moments where she disappears into a crowded dance floor with no top on, then proceeds to journey throughout the party in an equal state of undress. To be honest I’m not sure what this is symbolising beyond a statement of “I am woman?” and to reflect that underneath the layers of clothes she is just a person.

And what about those white turnips in the title? They make an appearance early on, with Ana claiming that they contain too much Vitamin C and therefore she can’t sleep. She’s advised moderation is healthy – another potent metaphor for life in general.

What’s interesting is the opportunity Lang gives us to explore Ana’s development over time. She’s a stronger person than she was at 19, more sure in the ways of the world and how to push herself forward. She is the one to choose whether her relationship with the tortured artist continues, she has the power and the control over her own life. This is where the film’s true power lies, and

Assassin’s Creed (2016) movie review


As a fan of the video game franchise in question, I was not opposed to the idea of a big screen adventure. I mean, movies based on video games have always worked out quite well in the past, haven’t they? Okay, I admit, they don’t have the best track record. But with Justin Kurzel in the director’s chair and the one-two combo of Fassbender and Cotillard starring, it should be a winner, right? Well, no, as it happens. What we’ve got here is something that is ponderous and overly melodramatic when it should have been a fun adventure story. With assassins.

Things start off reasonably well. We are way back in Europe 1492, as the Assassins induct Aguilar (Fassbender) into their order. Everything looks cool and moody, and nobody speaks in English. Good, nice attention to detail.

The Assassins are tasked with protecting the Apple throughout time. The Apple allows individuals to control the free will of others, and… snoring.

Sorry, I must have dozed off. Believe it or not, this is a plot point taken directly from the video games. While there it’s something that works quite well, here it’s… well, sci-fi hokum, quite frankly. And I say this as a longterm science fiction geek. Then again, I suppose I should be used to it.

There’s a reason why the games decided to spend less and less time in the future world – because it’s not very interesting. The same applies here.
It is these future elements, where Fassbender plays Aguilar’s descendant Callum, where it really drags. The Templars are a really boring bunch and I couldn’t really care any less about their plans for world domination. It might have helped if Kurzel had done something to visually separate the past and present sequences. As it is, they all sort of meld into one big, disturbing collage.

Callum’s due to be executed but is taken away by Abstergo, a shady and sinister company with nefarious intentions. Cotillard is wasted in a role that serves almost no purpose, and one where the character’s motives and actions are often in contradiction with each other.

As far as the plot goes, Callum is strapped into a machine, the Animus (looking like a giant claw) that lets him access the memories of his ancestors. In the one cool aspect of the present day storyline, Callum is able to learn all the same skills and abilities as his ancestor in the Assassin order. The rest of the time, when he’s not in the machine, the film consists of lots of people standing around looking depressed, Abstergo employees and prisoners alike.

It’s almost as if they wrote the script and then never thought about perhaps letting the audience in on what’s happening. I appreciate that in the games it’s not the most clear cut storyline in the world, but they manage to easily separate out the past and future worlds quite clearly. Why was this such a herculean task in the movie? If you’re going to make an art film about Assassin’s Creed then tell a clear story. Don’t obfuscate when there’s no need for it.

The troubles don’t end with the script. Casting, too, seems to mostly be a miss. Fassbender is decent enough as both as Aguilar and Callum, but neither of them really gets the opportunity to shine. Cotillard as said above is wasted and is deserving of a far better character. Brendan Gleeson and Charlotte Rampling are little more than cameos. It’s almost to the point where I questioned why they bothered accepting the role. Take an extended doze and you’ll miss them completely. Meanwhile for Jeremy Irons there is the distinct whiff of Dungeons and Dragons about his performance. In other words, he phones it in.

It doesn’t help that Jeremy Iron’s character is called Alan Rikkin. I kept thinking about Alan Rickman every time he showed up. In an alternate reality that would have made for a far more entertaining picture.

After the success of their Macbeth adaptation it’s understandable that the creative team behind it would want to get back together for another project. I’m a big fan of that film too, I don’t think that this was the best choice for their next project. Whether it’s because of interference from Ubisoft, the studio that make the games, or a basic misunderstanding over how to adapt the source material isn’t clear. What is abundantly clear, however, is this just doesn’t work. The Assassin creed of “Nothing is forbidden, everything is permitted” is, ironically, not applicable to this movie.

(REC) 2 (2009) movie review


How do you go about expanding on the first part of a story, with a new bunch of characters, but using exactly the same minimal location as before?

Simple answer really. You turn the concept on its head, combine the zombie and exorcism genres, and then hope for the best.

It’s a turn that I didn’t fully appreciate on my first viewing. Back then, I was a hardcore zombie nut, fearful of anything that moved away from the standard formula. How dare they do something different with their intellectual property!

I’ve learnt a lot in the intervening years, of course, so on second viewing I went in with less baggage. Subsequently I enjoyed the film much more.

So after the surprise ending of (REC) – no spoilers – we pick up immediately from a couple of new perspectives. The first group are an armed SWAT-style team, all wearing helmet cameras which expand on the “found footage” concept by showing multiple perspectives, sometimes all at the same time. Simple, yet effective. They go in to find out exactly what is happening inside, and discover much more than they expected.

The other group are a trio of teenagers that find a way inside the building (fools!) and just so happen to be filming their evening. This thread is introduced a little later into the story, but offers a shot in the arm to what could have easily become a repeat of the first film.

The canon is expanded by making the zombies a result of demonic possession instead of an infection. A priest is introduced (initially introduced as a medical expert) to help exorcise the demons, leading to some clever use of light and dark (and video camera night vision) in the final act. It also cleverly resolves most of the lingering questions from the first movie without ruining it after the fact.

As I said at the start of this review, I was initially skeptical about the use of religion in a zombie film. But then on reflection it’s something that works well and sets it apart from its genre brethren. The first person “video game shooter” approach aside, it is able to weave a heavy religious overtone into the blood covered carnage.

Other than these twists it is, in the best possible sense, more of the same. The action has a claustrophobic feel to it as we’re pushed down narrow corridors and walkways. The violence is hard hitting, occasionally surprising, and rife with moments that gore hounds will love. It barely takes a moment to breathe before moving onto the next action set piece, although those brief gaps are used to great effect.

Does it work as well as (REC)? No, because the familiar concept and setting have already been done before. But does it entertain? Yes. It expands on the world established in (REC) and develops its themes further, as a good sequel should.

In this instance, defining it as “more of the same but slightly different” isn’t actually a bad thing.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Let’s Do The Time Warp Again (2016) movie review


A film based on a stage musical, based on a film that was based on a stage musical. That is the labyrinthine level of understanding needed to appreciate this television movie in its full context. Of course, you can just watch it in isolation, but then you’d be missing out on the good stuff. Seriously, go watch the original.

It is also, sadly, not very good. More often than not it comes across as a bad parody of the original film. There are two key issues. The first is that the principle cast hover too close to the original cast’s performance. They never seem to step out of that shadow and make their own mark on the character. On the other hand, Reeve Carney plays his Raff-Raff very close to Richard O’Brien and that works well – perhaps that’s more to do with my enjoyment of O’Brien’s acting and writing than anything else.

Laverne Cox is a good choice for Dr Frank-N-Furter. Placing a transgender actor in the role is a nicely forward thinking piece of casting. Sadly her performance is bordering on a bad impression of Tim Curry and doesn’t really do anything new with it.

Even the appearance of Tim Curry does little to save things. That’s more of an issue with editing than it is his performance, which post-stroke is brief out of necessity. Suffice to say, Kenny Ortega’s direction feels like it’s lacking something. The production is too polished and yet at the same time incredibly cheap.

The story itself is told inside a framing device. Fans of the film will be aware that many audiences dress up and join in with the plot. Sadly that framing device doesn’t get used anywhere near as much as it should, and in reality doesn’t serve much purpose.

The 1975 film had a very specific level of seedy charm, a film with its own, very specific tone. This however feels neutered, a cleaned up, almost family friendly interpretation. That’s possibly the worst bit of the whole experience – it’s too sanitised.

And the songs… well, some of them work, but again most of them do not. They play very close again to the originals but have that musical sheen to them – namely, they are overproduced and over the top. You’d think this would work in the film’s favour, yet somehow it doesn’t.

To summarise, it’s a mess of contradiction and conflicting intentions. It doesn’t know what it wants to achieve, and makes the same mistake as almost every other remake or reinterpretation.

My main question is who this is intended for. Fans of the current stage play? Fans of the original film? A bit of both? Suffice to say, it caters more for the former than the latter, but more as an in joke than anything else. There’s not enough different things here to justify watching it over the original. Plus, if you really want a full appreciation of the stage play, go and watch it. You’ll enjoy it far more than a film of the same thing.

But there is good news – Christopher Biggins is completely AWOL. Small mercies.

Bridge Of Spies (2015) movie review


There is plenty to like in Bridge Of Spies. Chief among them are the performances from Mark Rylance as Soviet spy Abel, and Tom Hanks (of course) as Donovan, the lawyer tasked with representing Abel at trial. Their scenes together are magical, highlighting two top actors at their very best. It doesn’t hurt that they are being directed by one of cinema’s greats, either. Mr Spielberg, I doff my cap to you, sir.

I quite liked the (possibly less than) subtle approach to showing Abel and Donovan as both being strangers in a strange land. Before Abel’s arrest in Brooklyn he is seen sniffing and wiping his nose, an allergy of some sorts. Then, when Donovan has to venture off to to Germany, he’s an American not accustomed to the severe cold weather that covers the city.

And you really do feel the cold. The scenes in Berlin are chilly and as far flung from the New York setting as it’s possible to get.

What this amounts to is a spy film without any of the spying. Instead the focus is, quite heavily, on negotiation and the application of those skills in order to get the best outcome for everybody. Much of this falls on Donovan, an unconventional negotiator. He is tasked with getting a downed pilot back in exchange for Abel, however he learns of a young American student (almost a fellow Prior too – a Pryor) who is also being held captive. What follows are his attempts to get both of these men back into American hands.

This is cold war thriller territory, albeit that we see events via the back door. None of the negotiations are made public, and it’s all very hush hush. A necessity for both parties.

The downside is that he’s seen by many as a traitor, all thanks to him defending Abel. As time goes on they develop a friendship, of sorts, with the recurring refrain of Abel asking “Would it help?” offering a touch of lightness to proceedings. It’s needed, because Donovan is vilified for his involvement, later having to conduct negotiations in secret wherever possible.

The horrors of the Cold War are touched upon but not explored in a great amount of detail. That offers the colour, the historical context for the story which is, in essence, a friendship between two men who are stood on separate sides of a political and ideological divide. There are glimpses of the severity on the communist side of the wall, although if Donovan’s accommodation is anything to go by, things are not much better on the American side.

Plus as an added bonus, for me at least, the script was polished by the Coen Brothers. It’s nowhere near as whimsical and off kilter as the films they direct themselves, but there is a sharp edge to much of the dialogue that clearly comes from their pens. Or quills. Or typewriters. That this amount of drama has been extracted from a two character focus is quite remarkable and commendable.

Rob Roy (1995) movie review


Here is a film that I didn’t go out of my way to see. I received it as part of a Liam Neeson box set (along with Taken, The A-Team and Kingdom of Heaven. I watched the other three films not long after buying the set. This one however, has taken me far longer to get round to. Historical drama from that period isn’t top of my list.

And it turns out I was right in not rushing to see it. Sort of.

The plot sees Rob (Neeson) borrow £1000 from the Marquess of Montrose (John Hurt) to help feed his clan. The money is stolen by Archibald Cunningham (Tim Roth). Rob then goes on the run when he refuses to slander the name of one of Montrose’s rivals in lieu of paying the debt. Rob has his own code to live by, a man of principle. There would be no way that he would agree to do as the Marquess asks. So, he runs.

For the rest of it, where to begin? First, the Scottish accents tend to slip quite a bit. Jessica Lange’s is all over the place. Liam’s is too, starting quite Scottish and then just going with his own accent by the film’s end. Eric Stoltz… well, the less said the better I think. To balance things out are the just the right side of OTT English accents of John Hurt and Tim Roth, and the standard Scots accent of the always reliable Brian Cox (the actor, not the scientist).

It’s also very, very slow to get going. Yes, I appreciate that the audience needs to be guided into this world and to understand each of the character’s motivations and so on. But… you can do that in a much more concise manner and still get the point across. That’s perhaps the biggest issue with Rob Roy, that it dawdles and stretches things out rather than getting to the point. Show me who these people are, and then let the drama and action beats play out. I don’t need a thirty minute introduction to all the key players, of whom only four or five really matter.

It’s not all doom and gloom though. John Hurt and Tim Roth are both on fine form. I would have gladly paid to see them both play these characters in their own movie. That stuff is gold. Sadly their shared scenes are limited over the two hour plus running time, so I would make the most of them while you can. If you happened to take one or both actors out of this, I would have rated it much lower. That’s not to criticise the rest of the cast. Everyone puts in a fine performance. It’s just that Hurt and Roth elevate the material. It’s no surprise that Roth received an Oscars nomination for his performance.

The climactic sword fight is worth seeing. It’s dramatic and tense without lapsing into Michael Bay-style fast cuts or getting so close to the action you can’t see what’s happening. The outcome is perhaps not in question, but it does very nicely establish that there is a possibility that one man can best the other.

It also looks rather nice. The mountainous regions and on-location filming give it an epic feel. Sadly, this is then spoilt by the lack of actors involved in most of the scenes. An epic chase between Rob’s clan and the redcoats looking for them has at best 20 people in the scene. A few tweaks, James Cameron style, and it could have looked all the more impressive.

Okay, so it’s slow to get started, but eventually it builds into an enjoyable revenge tale. If you take out or condense down a few earlier scenes and a slight lull towards the middle of the film, Rob Roy would be a definite recommendation. As it is, it’s merely okay rather than great. I will likely say the same thing about Braveheart when I get round to it. It was released in the same year as Rob Roy and by all accounts takes a more liberal approach to history. One day, we shall see!

Lost River (2014) movie review


If anyone was wondering if Ryan Gosling was influenced at all by the directorial style of Nicholas Winding Refn, then look no further. Lost River is Gosling’s first directorial effort (he also wrote the script and produced the film), and the Winding Refn influence is strong. There are distinct elements of David Lynch too, adding to the dreamlike and occasionally surreal moments that play out in front of us.

It’s a very nice movie to look at. There are rich colours and incredible fiery scenes illuminating the cast and surrounding area. Unlike Winding Refn, more than 50% of Lost River is set at normal speed (or perhaps cranked down just a notch) rather than his occasionally painful use of slow motion. Lessons learned there.

Christina Hendricks is Billy, a mother of two who is led down a dark path by Ben Mendelsohn’s sinister Dave. Much like Alan Partridge and his chocolate orange storage fiasco, Billy was made promises about her loan that have not been kept. As a result she is now at risk of losing her home. She isn’t the only one. Other residents in her street are in the same boat. The neighbourhood has gone to the dogs thanks to Matt Smith’s Bully, who is hoarding copper piping for his own ill-gotten gains.

It’s clear why Smith took this role, his first after leaving Doctor Who. Bully is about as far from The Doctor as it’s possible to get in terms of the character’s motivations and beliefs. He comes to blows, in a sense, with Ian de Caestecker’s Bones, son of Billy. While Billy is off watching Dave do a strange, erotic dance in front of her, Bones is off exploring an underwater town nearby. There’s a curse to be lifted, you see.

Rounding off the cast is Saoirse Ronan (always good), who plays Rat. She carries around a rat with her, called Nick. Makes sense? She is another local resident who may be forced to move, looking after her grandma. Grandma has gone completely off the deep end, let’s be honest. She has a Miss Havisham vibe, poorly plastered with makeup and watching videos of her wedding day to remember her husband who died years previously. She spends the majority of the film with Bones,

We also meet Eva Mendes, a dancer/performer in a club visited by Billy and Dave. The club has an odd twist. Each night, the performer is apparently murdered in a grisly manner. It’s all for show, not that the captive audience seem to mind as they are sprayed with blood.

Suffice to say, there is a lot of promise for Gosling’s future as a director. What I would like to see is a more coherent narrative. Presenting everything in a dreamlike manner will only get you so far. The themes at play too are strong ones, which makes the lack of clarity all the more disappointing. Going to extremes to protect your family. Wanting to escape from a dead-end existence. Fighting back against those who wish you harm. They are great thematic starting points.

Adding to the theme, there’s a sense that events are taking place in some sort of personal purgatory for all those involved. The only way to escape is through a taxi driver (Red Kateb) who seems like a modern-day version of Charon ferrying souls over the River Styx. What it’s missing is a sense of cohesion to tie all these aspects together.

While that may be the most disappointing thing about Lost River, overall it’s a good effort, and I look forward to Gosling’s next feature.

All That Heaven Allows (1955) movie review


Douglas Sirk was, according to most, the master of melodrama. At the time of writing I am possibly not the best person to judge as this is the first of his movies that I have seen. Then again, if All That Heaven Allows is anything to go by, I am inclined to firmly agree with that statement. Bathed in lush Technicolor, this is a film that has a simple premise and draws focus on the romance between a man and a woman, and the social stigma they face as their apparently unconventional relationship goes public.

The themes at play are classic Hollywood, yet the traditional angle has been subverted. Here it is the man, Rock Hudson’s Ron Kirby, rather than a woman (Jane Wyman as Cary Scott) who is the younger in the couple. It’s funny in one sense because Wyman was only eight years older than Hudson at the time of filming (38 to his 30). Yet it still works – no offence to Wyman but she does look much, much older here. In fact that is a compliment in a roundabout way. She certainly looks the part. Anyway, I digress.

The social norms of the day are brought into focus nicely. He is your typical manual labourer/lumberjack type. He hunts animals, chops down trees, and goes to the lavatory as all good lumberjacks do. She meanwhile is part of the upper crust and hangs out with shallow people at the local country club. They meet, they fall for one another, and thus a story is born. It’s worth pointing out that her husband has long since died, leaving her to live in a big house with her son and daughter (selfish and self-obsessed in their own way). This isn’t an extra-marital thing, in case you were worried about that.

She is conflicted, because this new situation goes against everything she has experienced to date. He on the other hand isn’t concerned about what others think. It’s the difference between the two and, despite Hudson’s casting, it’s Wyman who is the central character here. She is the one who undergoes the most change throughout. In many respects, as good as Hudson is here, his character is merely the one to incite change and not much more. That and never raising his voice either. Quite the restrained performance for the era that truly gave us angry acting.

Despite this not being my usual choice of genre, I enjoyed this very much. It’s one of those stories that builds to its inevitable conclusion, even if the script tries to pull the rug out from under you on occasion. See the scene where Cary’s son tells her that her Christmas present is on the way. Don’t tell me you weren’t hoping for an “It’s A Wonderful Life” moment too.

Plus, as someone who has a growing appreciation for cinematography, everything looks amazing. The use of colour – still a novelty at that time – is incredible, if at times unrealistic. But this heightened reality adds to its depth rather than takes away. As a classic romance story, there’s none finer than this.