British film

REVIEW: Beyond (2014)

Cole (Richard J. Danum) and Maya (Gillian MacGregor) struggle to keep their relationship going as they try to survive in a world where the human population has been decimated by an alien attack.

When Cole and Maya meet there’s news of an asteroid that’s heading towards Earth. People start to decide what to do with what could be their last few months or years alive as Cole and Maya fall in love.

Beyond has two stories running through it. There’s how Cole and Maya met, fell in love and how their relationship develops, and then there’s them in the present, alone in the wilderness, running from spaceships and trying to stay alive. Beyond is a film that’s made up of flashbacks and flashforwards, which makes it a choppy mess a lot of the time. Because it doesn’t spend that long in either time, you don’t get to know Cole and Maya that well, both as a couple and individually.

Cole and Maya spend more time arguing once they’re together than anything else, making you wonder how they are staying together. It seems like the apparent end of the world is the only thing that keeps them together.

The Scottish landscapes that Cole and Maya travel across are striking, and the way the present, dystopian part of the film is shot is beautiful in an eerie way. The music is suitably haunting too and all those elements make a bleak situation, however the story nor the character are never compelling enough to make this sci-fi drama/mystery enjoyable.

Really the sci-fi set up, an asteroid heading for Earth that could turn out to be an alien lifeform, is a backdrop for Cole and Maya’s relationship. The film never utilises its sci-fi roots to its full effect, nor gives you characters and a relationship you will to succeed.

Beyond is an intriguing low-budget British sci-fi film but it doesn’t quiet deliver what it promises. 2/5.

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REVIEW: Pride

pridePride is about the true story of a group of lesbian and gay activists who rallied together to raise money for the miners on strike in 1984. The UK miners’ strike from 1984-1985 was due to the government’s plans (led by Conservative Margaret Thatcher) to close dozens of coal mines and pits across the country. Those on strike were obviously not getting paid so were in need of financial support from supporters across the country. It was a desperate situation for miners and their families but that doesn’t mean that they were necessarily happy to be receiving money collected by gays and lesbians – in part due to the prejudice against the gay community, especially with the emergence of AIDS.

Pride shows this conflict between the miners and the LGBT community – two communities that had a common ground due to being attacked by the police, the tabloids and the government – is handled very well. It brings a lot of humour and shows that there are both differences and similarities in people where you’d perhaps least expect it. The culture-clash yields surprising, funny and touching consequences.

Joe (George MacKay) is the audience’s eyes as he stumbles into London’s Gay Pride march and meets Mike (Joseph Gilgun) and the rest of the gang that will become the Lesbian and Gays Support the Miners group. Joe is coming to terms with his sexuality and is having his eyes opened to this different world, just like the audience is.

The cast is undeniably brilliant. It is a showcase for long-standing British talent like Bill Nighy, Imelda Staunton and Paddy Considine as well as upcoming talent like Gilgun, MacKay and Faye Marsay. There is great chemistry between all of the cast and the humour and comrade feels as natural as the moments of conflict. American Ben Schnetzer portrays Mike, the leader of the Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners group, and gives a (hopefully) breakout performance. He’s both confident giving a speech to a less than welcoming crowd at the working men’s club in a Welsh village and sensitive to the discrimination faced by both the LGBT community and the miners.

The screenplay is simultaneously witty and heartfelt. It is very easy with a true story to become too sentimental and cheesy but Pride doesn’t fall into that trap. If anything the script has faith in the audiences intelligence (which is very refreshing), sub-plots are often given just enough development for audiences to be left to think “Does that mean…?” Pride is laugh out loud funny, clever but also knows when and how to work the more emotional moments.

Pride is well-directed by Matthew Warchus (Pride is only his second film) as he makes the most of the big set-pieces in the working men’s club as well as the more quiet moments between two characters. The cinematography is beautiful and shows the Welsh countryside at its best. Pride also has a brilliant soundtrack combining Welsh hymns with disco and Frankie Goes to Hollywood.

Pride is a historical comedy-drama that’s well written, well-acted and well-directed. It’s funny, moving and ultimately uplifting and gives you hope for what people can achieve. 5/5.