Film reviews: Spring | Tommorowland | The New Girlfriend

George Clooney as Frank Walker, Britt Robertson as Casey and Raffey Cassidy as Athena in Disney's "Tomorrowland." Picture: AP

George Clooney as Frank Walker, Britt Robertson as Casey and Raffey Cassidy as Athena in Disney's "Tomorrowland." Picture: AP

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Alistair Harkness rounds up the latest cinematic releases

Tomorrowland – A World Beyond (PG)

Rating: * * * *

Inspired by the titular futuristic zone in the original Disneyland theme park, this family sci-fi blockbuster starring George Clooney feels like a fairly rote cinematic rollercoaster ride for its first hour, particularly as its spiky teenage protagonist (Britt Robertson) finds herself on the run from government agents after being given access to a parallel universe full of incredible technology. But then co-writer and director Brad Bird (The Incredibles) does something interesting: he slows things down, focuses more on characters and ideas, and turns the second half of the film into a critique of our cultural obsession with wanton destruction and dystopian despair that casts the first half in a new light. In the end it plays like a classic Pixar film: promising a ride but delivering ideas.

A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night (15)

Rating: * * *

Feeding off the films of Jim Jarmusch, this black-and-white Iranian horror film about a chador-wearing vampire (Sheila Vand) who skulks through the streets on a skateboard dispensing bloody justice to exploiters of women feels more like a self-conscious exercise in style than a satisfying genre movie. But while the oblique narrative can test the patience, there are moments of artful beauty that make it worth some attention.

The New Girlfriend (15)

Rating: * * * *

Based on a short story by the late Ruth Rendell, François Ozon’s latest is a tale of familial deception with nods to Hitchcock in the way its central secret disrupts the deceptively calm life of its protagonist in unexpected ways. That protagonist is Claire (Anaïs Demoustier), whose life and sexual identity start to unravel when she discovers the husband (Romain Duris) of her recently deceased best friend isn’t who she thought he was.

Moomins On The Riviera (U)

Rating: * * *

This gentle, hand-drawn animated outing for Tove Jansson’s family of Finnish hippopotamus-like trolls takes the Moomins on holiday to the south of France for a mishap-fuelled adventure. The English-language voice cast is a bit lacking in personality, but it’s diverting enough for young tots and accompanying parents or grandparents with fond memories of the books.

Spring (15)

Rating: * * * *

Revolving around a young American (Lou Taylor Pucci) who hightails it to Europe and falls for a genetics student (Nadia Hilker) whose interest in him may not be entirely romantic, this entertainingly lo-fi US/Italian horror co-production is the sort of movie Before Sunrise might have been had Richard Linklater displayed any interest in the supernatural. Whether through choice or budgetary necessity, the film is in little hurry to get to the gorier mythological back-story underpinning the real reason the characters are drawn to each other, but when those revelations do arrive, they’re elaborate and imaginative, ensuring the film satisfies as a bloody black comedy with surprisingly insightful things to say about the heartbreaking power of fast-forged love.

Return To Sender (18)

Rating: * *

Rosamund Pike and Nick Nolte lend undeserved legitimacy to this dubious thriller about a rape victim (Pike) who pursues a relationship with her prison-bound attacker (Shiloh Fernandez) for reasons her ageing father (Nolte) can’t fathom. In a film with minimal psychological complexity and lots of unbelievable plotting, Pike’s association with Gone Girl is not enough to explain her character’s increasingly psychotic behaviour.

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