Empire of Light

Empire of Light
Date: 06/06/2023 Times: 7:30 pm - 9:25 pm

Olivia Colman received a Golden Globe Best Actress nomination, the film was nominated for a BAFTA award as Outstanding British Film And Roger Deakins (Skyfall, 1917 and most of the Cohn Brother’s films) had an Oscar nomination as Cinematographer. Colman plays Hilary, a cinema manager struggling with her mental health, and Stephen (Micheal Ward) is a new employee longing to escape the provincial town where he faces daily adversity. Together they find a sense of belonging and experience the healing power of music, cinema, and community. The main location for the film was a real cinema that had fallen into disrepair and was restored to its former magnificence. Toby Jones plays the projectionist who describes the magic of the cinematic experience.

What makes this otherwise modest character drama stand out is not simply the quality of the performances, but the rarity of cinematic stories about people with mental illness that avoid sensationalism and allow for proper character arcs. Hilary is not defined by her illness any more than Stephen is defined by the colour of his skin, though he experiences racist violence. Both are fully rounded characters, and this, together with their lack of concerns about their age difference (which is never directly referenced), creates a sense that anything could happen. Writer/director Sam Mendes plays fast and loose with the conventions of romance, delivering something which feels more human and less easily categorised.

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Empire of Light

Year: 2022

Country: UK

Cert: 15

Duration: 115 mins

Dir: Sam Mendes

'A poignant, wonderfully acted drama about love, life and films.'

Venue: William Loveless Hall