Sunday, 27 January 2013

THE LIVES OF OTHERS: Two terrific recent films explore the raw complexities of love and humanity

Following the wide acclaim for his superb adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice and Ian MacEwan’s Atonement, director Joe Wright manages to yield visually sumptuous art out of Leo Tolstoy’s classic, gifting audiences with a poetic and theatrical take on the celebrated novel centred on the complex, self-destructive anti-heroine of the title (Keira Knightley) and her doomed relationships with a pair of vastly dissimilar men (Jude Law and Aaron Taylor-Johnson) that led to her inevitable undoing, and quite tragically too. Knightley, all flair, bright eyes and fierce intelligence, immaculately captures the spirit of this seriously flawed vixen and is well-supported by Law and Taylor-Johnson, who seems to only get better with each new role. A- 

In this energetic and deeply engrossing cops-and-and-robbers saga from Training Day writer David Ayer (who doubles here as director), Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña star as a pair of LAPD crimefighters caught in a heated ongoing battle with the ruthless thugs (female included) of will-stop-at-nothing drug cartel. Shot largely in handheld documentary style, it’s a bruising and ultimately affecting look at the lives of young lawmen on the frontline and their loved ones (Anna Kendrick plays Gyllenhaal’s girl) left at home. As disturbing and fraught with tension as it is daringly directed and convincingly acted. B+

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