Tuesday 25 September 2018

Movie Reviews: Get Up & Go, Unfriended and Far From the Maddening Crowd

Get Up & Go
Get Up & Go

Get Up & Go looks great but lacks some bite, Unfriended should remain unseen and Far From the Madding Crowd is a bit dull, really

Get Up & Go

(Comedy. Starring Peter Coonan, Killian Scott, Gemma-Leah Devereux, Sarah McCall, Sara Lloyd-Gregory, Ryan McParland, Aidan Lawlor, Emma Eliza Regan, Fionn Walton. Director: Brendan Grant. Cert: 15A)

Before we proceed, let's talk first about the Love/Hate sized elephant in the room. For director Brendan Grant, casting Killian Scott and Peter Coonan was a high-risk move. Having the pair drive around post-boom Dublin in a car plotting and scheming, doubly so. Not that Coonan or Scott can't be extricated from their Love/Hate characters… far from it. Coonan has shown remarkable range in recent months, while Scott became one of the true standouts, in a cast heaving with heavyweights, of Calvary. But let's face it: Love/Hate, and its Dublin backdrop, casts rather a long shadow.

There's an interesting premise buried in Get Up & Go somewhere. Cóilín (Scott) and Alex (Coonan) are two aimless twenty-somethings attempting to get their lives on track. Mired in dead-end jobs, the two slackers make plans to hotfoot it to London. Yet Alex's girlfriend Sinead (Sarah McCall) puts the kibosh on the plan by announcing that she's pregnant. If anything, the news puts a fire under Alex to get his plan off the blocks. What follows is Alex's race against time to catch that early morning ferry to London, preferably with his reluctant friend in tow. The action unfolds on the last 24 hours before that scheduled departure and, as is often the way in Dublin, mayhem unfolds in the wee hours of the morning.

Coonan does a pretty game job of making a pretty gross character seem like a bit of a cheeky scamp. While Alex attempts to seduce Lola (Gemma-Leah Devereux) the sister of the pregnant girlfriend he's trying to bolt from (Lola is also the object of Cóilín's affection), there's always a small part of the audience that will root for him.

Scott's character, on paper at least, shows slightly more promise. He's supposed to be a lost soul, mooning after a girl he had a one night stand with and saying intriguing things like 'do you know how many people I've voluntarily touched in my whole life?' But Scott's little boy blue somehow gets lost in translation.

Get Up & Go is stylish, but is a different beast. There's too much flab around its middle, the plot descends into a bewildering and boring farce, and the stakes aren't nearly high enough for any character, leaving the audience in a constant state of 'meh'. If you're bored though, you can always play 'spot the hipster joint' to pass the time.

Alas, Get Up & Go looks less like a little movie that could, and more like a glossy Irish tourism advert aimed at unimaginative hipsters. The weird thing is, it's a Dublin that you'd crawl to Dun Laoghaire harbour on your hands and knees to get away from.

Rating: ***


(Horror/Thriller. Starring Heather Sossaman, Shelley Hennig, Matthew Bohrer, Courtney Halverson, Moses Storm, Will Peltz, Renee Olstea, Jacob Wysocki. Director: Levan Gabriadze. Cert: 16)


Dante never got around to writing about the seventh circle of hell, but I know now that it likely involves six American teenagers on a video chat. While waffling away about this and that (for what genuinely seems like an eternity), the group receive a Skype message from a digital intruder. It turns out to be Laura Barns (Heather Sossaman), a school 'friend' who took her own life. It seems that Laura Barns, who felt humiliated after someone posted an embarrassing video of her, has some unfinished business to attend to from beyond the grave.

The American teenager is usually a rich cinematic seam to mine, but the problem here is that we don't get to see this lot do anything beyond putter about on their computers. This lot of Abercrombie dopes are deathly dull, and when they're picked off one by one, relief washes over you, because it means that the end is nigh. Of the movie, that is. A word of warning; this is not a horror for those not versed in Facebook, Skype, Chatroulette or iMessage. The action - unfolding exclusively on Blair Lily's (Shelley Hennig) Apple Mac screen - moves at such a fast pace that even Mark Zuckerberg himself would need to strap himself in.

It's an interesting gimmick, and the first movie of its kind to speak so directly to millennials. Played right, Unfriended could have become the Final Destination franchise of this decade: a horror served with a healthy dash of campy fun.

Yet the death scenes, which only serve to punctuate the unbearable gibberish of the characters, are laughable. Turns out that Universal Pictures has already begun work on a sequel. Um, yikes.

At best, Unfriended is a parable about the long-reaching arm of cyberbullying, and the teenage generation's reluctance to move away from the 'black mirror'. At worst, Unfriended is a turgid swamp of a film that squanders a good gimmick. If you're anything like me, you'll want to issue actual bodily harm to whoever invented Skype.

Rating: *

Far From The Madding Crowd

(Drama. Starring Carey Mulligan, Matthias Schoenaerts, Michael Sheen, Juno Temple, Tom Sturridge, Bradley Hall, Jessica Barden. Director: Thomas Vinterberg. Cert: 12A) 


From Downton Abbey to Poldark, we have seen that there's potential in period drama when it comes to sexiness. Both TV projects are shot through with enough spice, suspense and intrigue to keep the most demanding of modern audiences gripped. So hopes were high that this remake of Thomas Hardy's bracing novel would be every bit as intriguing. We're in very capable hands here, too: David Nicholls is the film's screenwriter, while Andrew McDonald (Trainspotting) is on board as producer. With such mavericks in the mix, then, why is Far From The Madding Crowd so curiously bloodless?

Bathsheba (Carey Mulligan) is a woman before her time: we know this because sometimes she likes to ride horseback like a man when no one is looking. She was too wild to be a governess and abhors the idea of being a man's property. So quite how she got involved in this Eastenders-with-corsets fandango is beyond me. Rejecting the proposal of the earthy Gabriel Oak (Matthis Schoenaerts) and the middle-aged but infatuated Mr Boldwood (a brilliant Michael Sheen), Bathsheba finds herself in a bizarre love triangle, which is a bit unfortunate if you've no interest in hitching yourself to anyone's wagon. The triangle becomes a square when Bathsheba encounters bad lad Sergeant Troy (Tom Sturridge) in the woods.

Julie Christie brought so much vim and spirit to the part in the 1967 adaptation of the film that she's a tough act to follow. Mulligan blends majesty and mischief well enough to take on the role… but the casting of Belgian Schoenaerts is a strange one. Clearly, someone in the business has decided that he's the new Michael Fassbender, with his intense eyes and brooding charisma. But as he was in A Little Chaos, Schoenaerts seems out of his depth.

Sadly, the sprawling Far from The Madding Crowd isn't so much bodice ripping as 'Miss, might I please see your ankles?'. And when you've got three hot men vying for one's affections, the chase becomes very boring, very fast.

Rating **

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