Film releases: Super | Holy Rollers | The Round Up | Trust
Our critic reviews the best and worst of the latest film releases...
Super (18) **
Directed by: James Gunn
Starring: Rainn Wilson, Ellen Page, Liv Tyler, Kevin Bacon
"I WONDER all the time why no-one's never just stood up and become a real superhero." So says Ellen Page's nerdy comic-book store employee Libby at one point in Super, echoing a line from last year's conceptually similar Kick-Ass. Both movies were made around the same time, but Super suffers much more from the comparison, not least because of its uneasy attempt to use the guise of a cartoonish superhero film to explore the issue of mental illness (something done much more subtly in the little-seen 2006 indie film Special). Rainn Wilson takes the lead as Frank, a not-all-there nice guy who takes Libby's aforementioned musings to heart when his recovering-addict wife (Liv Tyler) runs off with the local drug kingpin (Kevin Bacon). Decking himself out in a silly red costume, rechristening himself the Crimson Bolt and arming himself with a heavy-duty wrench, he takes to the streets in surprisingly violent fashion, cracking the skulls of drug dealers, child molesters and queue-jumpers alike with ruthless impunity. Unfortunately Super's director James Gunn seems unable to decide whether he's making a satirical work or a sick joke and, as a result, he squanders the entertainingly unhinged performances of his cast before copping out with a sentimental happy ending.
Holy Rollers (15) **
Directed by: Kevin Asch
Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Justin Bartha, Danny A Abeckaser
REVOLVING around a group of Hassidic Jews involved in the importation of ecstasy tablets into New York in the 1990s, this based-on-fact drug dealer saga may boast a surface degree of freshness thanks to the unique world in which it takes place, but any originality is soon cancelled out by the somewhat rote cautionary tale conventions it deploys. Following the lead of many an earnest, Mean Streets-influenced film about low-level hoods, Holy Rollers focuses on a protagonist wrestling with his criminal instincts and his faith-based moral code. This is Sam Gold (Jesse Eisenberg), the frustrated son of a poor Lower East Side fabric importer who navely allows himself to be lured into becoming a drug mule by a dodgy friend (Justin Bartha) only to finds his smarts have some practical application in the criminal underworld. To his credit, debut director Kevin Asch works hard to avoid falling into the trap so many films do of glamorising the drug trade, but despite a suitably nervy turn from Eisenberg, there's no energy to the film-making or much insight into the story.
The Round Up (12A) ****
Directed by: Rose Bosch
Starring: Mlanie Laurent, Sylvie Testud, Jean Reno, Hugo Leverdez
KICKING off with a title card informing us that all the events we're about to see actually happened, even the most extreme ones, The Round Up seeks to remind audiences of the unbelievably horrible events of July 1942, when thousands of Jews were rounded up in Nazi-occupied Paris by German soldiers and willing Vichy collaborators. Writer/director Rose Bosch takes a straightforward approach to this story, focusing on a few main characters – including a nurse (played by Mlanie Laurent) and a doctor (Jean Reno) – and using their experiences to illustrate how inhumane their collective treatment was as they were herded into a sports stadium before being deported to internment camps, many never to be seen again. Small acts of heroism emerge throughout, and a reminder is provided that thousands of Jews were also saved by ordinary French families who risked their lives by hiding them. Mostly, though, the film focuses on the colossal stain left on the national psyche by Ptain's cowardly capitulation to the Nazis and Hitler's callous indifference to human suffering. It's a useful primer on this period of French history, but isn't much more than that.
Trust (15) ***
Directed by: David Schwimmer
Starring: Clive Owen, Catherine Keener, Liana Liberato
THOUGH David Schwimmer has been carving out career directing comedy of late (he made the Simon Pegg film Run Fatboy Run), Trust sees the former Friends star make a credible bid to be taken seriously as a film-maker with a drama about chatroom grooming. Examining the devastating and complex effect predatory relationships can have on victims and their families, Schwimmer takes care to avoid sensationalising the issue by keeping the focus on the insidious ways in which the film's protagonist – a typical 14-year-old from a good family – is preyed upon by an older man, first online, then in person. Here, newcomer Liana Liberato does strong, measured work as Annie, expertly essaying not only how a young girl can feel protective towards her attacker, but also how her conflicted feelings can create a barrier between her and her parents, particularly her father (Clive Owen). Schwimmer handles this very sensitively and, even though a couple of overly neat attempts to comment on the sexualisation of children (Owen's character works in advertising and, ironically, makes his money helping people target the tween market) do blight things somewhat, for the most part this is a well acted, intelligent attempt to explore a tough topic.
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