I love independent films. But sadly they miss out on a good deal of attention. Unless you’re a movie that’s on the side of a bus, on every poster on the tube or spread across the news, it can be easy to overlook what’s really out in cinemas. Lots of you have probably never heard of the film Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool.
But I saw it last week and loved it. It’s heart-warming and heart-breaking in one big bundle.
The film stars Annette Bening and Jamie Bell. Bening portrays Gloria Graheme – the late Hollywood icon. The actress you might remember from Oklahoma! as the lady who ‘can’t say no’ (in her song). Except she could. She played alongside actors like Humphrey Bogart. She was a big dog. And then she refused to get in line with sexism. She didn’t want to travel in a car with a male producer on her own. And she was kicked to the metaphorical movie curb. Years later she wound up in London, renting a room in shared accommodation. That’s where she met Peter Turner (played by Bell), a younger scouse actor who couldn’t quite believe she was the acting veteran she said she was.
Bening is wonderful as Grahame. She’s got a similar voice, a similar pout. Her mannerisms are both irritating and compelling. And you can see why a younger Turner falls head over heels for her. It’s not quite the story I expected it to be. I thought there would be more focus on why she left Hollywood and in fact the director focused largely on (*spoiler alert*) her illness in the latter part of her life. This is when Turner’s working-class family in Liverpool take her in and look after her. (Julie Walters reunited with Jamie Bell).
But unlike Billy Elliot, this isn’t a story about hope. I’ll leave you to guess how it all pans out. But then again…..don’t guess. Have a pop over to your local cinema and give it a watch.
Other films that are worth seeing?
Battle of the Sexes is meant to be a good’un. I have to admit I’m not particularly interested. But as this one DOES seem to be on the side of every bus and in every magazine article, I might give it a watch.
Ingrid Goes West is fabulous. And enlightening. IF you can find a cinema that’s still showing it. (It’s currently like gold dust.)
Paddington 2 will get you in the Christmas spirit. Especially with young kids around.
Wonder is the one starring Julia Roberts and the young boy from ‘Room’ which looks incredibly touching. It’s a story about a young boy who navigates his way through life with Treacher Collins syndrome (I had to Google it).
……..And remember to look out for all the festive pop ups near you. Happy December x