Friday, 17 June 2016

Death is Only the Beginning - a film review

"Death is only the Beginning" is a quote from the brilliant The Library Suicides which got it's world premier today at the Edinburgh International Film Festival. It is a phrase that could equally apply to the disappointing film, The Correspondence.

I've long been fascinated by astronomy, particularly string theory which at least in theory predicates the existence of parallel universes and thus the possibility that we have doubles, and that ghosts could truly exist. So the concept behind The Correspondence appealed, two astronomers have an affair and he keeps communicating with her after his death. Plus it's by the same director as Cinema Paradiso!

Sadly, the film is a disappointment. The romance between Professor Ed Phoerum (Jeremy Irons) and student (and part time stunt woman) Amy (Olga Kurylenko) lacks emotional intensity, mostly because it consists almost entirely of her tearfully watching grainy videos of his messages from beyond the grave and interrupting her social engagements to read his text messages. It also fails as a thriller, the storyline, which in other hands could well be gripping, just comes across mostly as silly. It fails scientifically too, though towards the end there is a brief extract from Amy's research which implies the kind of thing the film was trying but failed to achieve. The highlight (really) is the beautiful chocolate labrador with big eyes who appears every now and then seemingly trying to give Amy messages from beyond the grave. Oh and the beautiful scenery of the Professor's Italian hideaway.

A much more successful film is The Library Suicides, a beautifully constructed Welsh language thriller set in the National Library of Wales. Never has a library seemed more a place of mystery and menace (and we discover a new use for those sliding, space-saving book shelving units). Twin librarians Ana and Nan (both played by Catrin Stewart) are devastated when their mother (a famous novelist) commits suicide and suspect that her biographer was actually responsible for killing her. The twins set out one night on revenge..... The narrative is tensely plotted, helped by a very atmospheric soundtrack and lighting (though at times a little more light would have been helpful). Secrets are gradually revealed along the way making for a very satisfying thriller. The setting in a library (where everything is a copy of the original as one of the twins says) is an ideal location for a meditation on memory and storytelling - whose memories are these anyway and who has the right to tell the story? Well worth watching.....

These films are showing as part of Edinburgh International Film Festival:

The Correspondence: 2035, 17 June at Filmhouse and 1520, 19 June at Odeon.

The Library Suicides:  1820, 17 June and 1545, 18 June, both at Cineworld

 You can read my other reviews from this year's film festival by following the links below:

The Mine.

The Islands and the Whales.

Hunt for the Wilderpeople

Bugs - are insects the food of the future?

Disclaimer: I have a press pass for the Edinburgh International Film Festival and attended free press screenings of these films

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