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Film Reviews: The Treatment - The President - Dance of Reality - Gemma Bovery - Escobar: Paradise Lost

20/08/2015 15:46 BST | Updated 20/08/2016 10:59 BST

'The Treatment' is a dark, disturbing and gripping thriller with a relentless pace - 'The President' is a powerful, gripping and inventive satire that echoes events in Eastern Europe and the Arab Spring - Alejandro Jodorowski's bizarre and inventive 'Dance of Reality' has a remarkable and audacious elegance with a tantalising poetic touch - 'Gemma Bovery,' Anne Fontaine's contemporary take on Flaubert's classic novel looks good but is character flat - Escobar: Paradise Lost is a confident directorial debut but needs more of the thriller and less of the romance.

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Director: Hans Herbots

Cast: Geert van Rampelberg, Ina Geerts, Johan van Assche

Genre: Crime Thriller, Mystery

Language: Flemish with English subtitles

Country of Origin: Belgium 2014 125 mins.

Certificate 18

Rating: ****

Intense, riddled with twists and turns, 'The Treatment,' is a dark thriller with a Nordic noir feel adapted from the second of British crime writer Mo Hayder's series of crime novels and echoes the serial killer Marc Dutroux and recent Belgian paedophile cases.

Inspector Nick Cafmeyer (Geert van Rampelberg) has had his demons since nine years of age when his younger brother Bjorn was abducted and the prime suspect, terminally ill Ivan Plettnickx (Johan van Assche), who lives close by taunts Cafmeyer with revelations about his brother. When a married couple are imprisoned in their home for three days and their nine year-old son's abducted, sexually assaulted and killed the case drops on Cafmeyer's desk. It immediately raises dark questions. Why did the intruder imprison the parents separately and mark their home with paint thinned with urine and why did the boy's father Alex (Tobo Vandenborre) and mother Cindy (Brit van Hoof) offer different accounts? When the ritual's repeated in another house Nick Cafmeyer must face his own all consuming childhood demons.

'The Treatment' is a dark, disturbing and gripping thriller with a relentless pace with Geert van Rampelberg terrific as Nick Cafmeyer, a man haunted by the past.

Released 21st August.

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Director: Mohsen Makhmalbaf

Cast: Misha Gomiashvili, Dachi Orvelashvili

Genre: Drama

Language: Georgian with English subtitles

Country of Origin: Georgia, France, UK, Germany 2014 115 mins.

Certificate 15

Rating: ****

Perhaps it's all a game when you hold absolute power. In an unnamed country the President (Misha Gomiashvili) plays a game with his adored 6-year-old grandson (Dachi Orvelashvili) who loves to see The President bark the order to turn the city lights off and on. So begins a revolution and the pampered lives of the President's family is over at the flick of a light switch. The game's gone too far. The people have spoken. Rioters throng the streets. With a bounty on his head, forced to flee the country he once ruled with an iron fist, the President presents an almost Christ-like figure in stolen ragged clothes with a guitar travelling the country he once ruled in a game of pretence as a street musician with his grandson as a dancing monkey boy. The powerful is powerless.

Shot in Georgia, exiled Iranian director Hohsen Makhmalbaf's powerful, gripping and well told inventive satire echoes events in Eastern Europe and the Arab Spring and perhaps the President's arrogant posturing offers a sly reference to Vladimir Putin. The cast are excellent and Dachi Orvelashvili is superb as the grandson who only wants to go back to the palace and dance with Maria. Konstantin Mindia Esadze's cinematography captures a bleak wasteland ravaged by a tyrant's brutal rule and the smell of revenge hangs in the air. It's a powerful and well told film.

Released 21st August.

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Director: Alejandro Jodorowsky

Cast: Alejandro Jodorowsky, Brontis Jodorowsky, Pamela Flores, Jeremias Herskovitz

Genre: Drama, Biography, Fantasy

Language: Spanish with English subtitles

Country of Origin: Chile, France 2014 130 mins.

Certificate 15

Rating: ****

Bizarre, hypnotically fascinating and with an array of mesmerising images, Alejandro Jodorowsky's 'Dance of Reality' his first feature since 1990 has a remarkable and audacious elegance with a tantalising and poetic touch.

The 84-year-old Chilean director has made few films since his cult film 'El Topo' (1970) and this autobiographical journey, a coming together with the past has touches of Fellini, Beregman, Luis Bunuel, and Peter Greenaway and is filled with bold colours, brilliant images, the surreal and a memorable visual elegance.

Set in Tocopilla, a coastal town on the edge of the Chilean desert in the early 1930s the director acts as narrator. This was a family subject to antisemitism, a Stalin obsessed brutish father Jaime (Brontis Jodorowsky), who subjected the young Alejandro (Jeremias Herskovits) to barbaric humiliations to make him a man and a mother Sara (Pamela Flores), emotional and protective of her son relates her story as a soaring soprano. The second half sees Jaime, the radicle setting off to assassinate the military dictator Carlos Ibanez (Bastian Bodenhofer), a journey that will lead to physical and spiritual torment but ultimately redemption.

It's a staggering visual journey filled with cinematic fantasy - the circus, dwarfs, deformed figures, a tattooed theosopist, a beach covered with thousands of sardines hurled from the sea, politics, violence and torture litter what is a remarkable and visually inventive journey. An amazing collection of compelling characters, that's more dance than reality.

Released 21st August.

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Director: Anne Fontaine

Cast: Gemma Atherton, Fabrice Luchini, Jason Fleyming

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance

Language: French with English subtitles

Country of Origin: France 2014 109 mins.

Anne Fontaine's contemporary take on Flaubert's classic 'Madame Bovary' looks good but is character flat.

Local baker Martin Joubert (Fabrice Luchini) loves Flaubert's classic novel and sees comparisons between newly arrived Gemma Bovery (Gemma Atherton) and Flaubert's heroine, Emma who with husband Charlie (Jason Fleyming) is renovating a run down Normandy farm house. For Joubert in a mid-life crisis, it's his duty to save Gemma from Emma's fate.

Sourced from Posy Simmond's novel, Fabrice Luchini, the baker in love with classic literature and his wife Valerie (Isabelle Candelier) are the only live characters with wit and spark in what's otherwise a flat contemporary take on Flaubert's classic. Gemma Atherton offers little beyond the look and figure, the bored housewife who needs to get way from husband Charlie and embarks on a sexual adventure with sop aristocrat Herve Bresigny (Niels Schneider) who's afternoon frolics are more akin to the 70s low budget Robin Askwith's at-it romps in 'The Adventures of a Window Cleaner.' Ex-lover Patrick (Mel Raido) hopes he's in with a chance since his marriage breakdown but he's dull. Thank goodness for narrator Fabrice Luchini and his wife Valerie who put our English trio to shame. Great Normandy countryside. I liked the ending, but of course that was Fabrice Luchini.

Released 21st. August.

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Director: Andrea Di Stafano

Cast: Josh Hutcherson, Claudia Traisac, Benecio del Toro

Genre: Drama, Romance, Thriller

Language: English, Spanish with English subtitles

Country of Origin: France, Spain, Belgium, Panama 2014 120 mins.

Certificate: 15

Rating: ***

Pablo Escobar and his Colombian cocaine rule is well recorded and Andrea Di Stefano's directorial debut offers a fictionalised tale of new found love and the brutal reality of the Escobar cocaine empire. Nick's (Josh Hutcherson) joined his brother (Brady Corbet) and his family in Colombia. He's found paradise, a turquoise lagoon, the perfect beach, a windsurfers dream and when Nick meets Maria (Claudia Traisac), it's love at first sight, the dream's complete and it's time to meet Maria's rich uncle Pablo (Benecio del Toro), the 'Patron', loved, admired, powerful and very rich. How does uncle Pablo make his money? Maria's up front - it's cocaine. Surprised Nick? You must be pretty dumb not to realise that. It's the world of the cartel, thugs, guns and blood. The screen needs more of Benecio del Toro and the world of the cartel. That's where the interest lies.

Andrea Di Stefano has made a confident directorial debut but it needs more of the thriller and less of the romance. The film begins to come alive in the second half when Nick's world comes crashing in as he's drawn into the brutal world of the cartel. There are political ramifications and the characters that fill that world and of course the 'Patron', Benecio del Toro.

Released 21st. August.

Blu-Ray/DVD Recommendations

Exit

Director: Hsiang Chienn Cast: Shiang-Chyi Chen, Easton Dong, Ming-Hua Pai, An-Shun Yu, Chen-Ling Wen; Genre: Drama; Language: Mandarin with English subtitles; Country of Origin: Taiwan 2014 94 mins.

A sensitive, compelling and emotional portrait of a woman who finds a way to escape loneliness. Shiang-Chyi Chen's superb performance defines 'Exit.'

Released 24th. August.

The Falling

Director: Carol Morley; Cast: Maisie Williams, Maxine Peake, Monica Dolan, Greta Scacchi; Genre: Drama; Language: English; Country of Origin: UK 2014 102 mins.

A 1960s girls' school sees a mysterious fainting epidemic. Carol Morley's intense and distinctive black comedy is more than a jump beyond The Prime of Miss Jean Brody.

Released 24th. August.

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