Tag Archives: Vanessa Redgrave

Fantasy Based

Finding You

by George Wolf

Here’s the perfect marriage of a formulaic, instantly forgettable title with a formulaic, instantly forgettable film.

Talented violinist Finley Sinclair (Rose Reid) fails her audition at the Manhattan music conservatory due to a “lack of passion” in her playing. She thinks a change of scenery will ease the sting of rejection, so it’s goodbye to New York, hello to a semester studying abroad in Ireland (where she’ll go to class exactly one day).

Before wheels up, though, a flight attendant offers Finley an empty seat in First Class. I’ll pause now for laughter.

Welcome back. And wouldn’t you know, that seat is right beside Beckett Rush (Jedidiah Goodacre), international movie star heartthrob! Of course Finley’s put off by his arrogance, and the meet cute becomes a completely unconvincing setup for a nonstop flight to Young Adult romance fantasyland.

In the quaint Irish village of Cardington, Finley’s host family (which includes the irresistible Saoirse-Monica Jackson from Derry Girls) runs a B&B, and guess who else is staying there?


Incorrect. It’s that obnoxious Beckett! He’s in town to film the latest Dawn of the Dragon flick, reprising his role as “Steel Markoff” and his tabloid-friendly romance with co-star Taylor Risdale (Katherine McNamara)! But Beckett seems eager to break from the grip of his pushy manager/father (Tom Everett Scott), and fate sure does seem to like throwing Finley and Beckett together, so…

No! “We can’t get involved!” “It would never work!”

Writer/director Brian Baugh (adapting Jenny B. Jones’s 2011 YA novel “There You’ll Find Me”) has a resume heavy on faith based projects, and Finding You does some very similar preaching to its own choir. Though Baugh manages some amusing wink-winks at those dragon-based franchises, there’s no such self awareness to be found for his own audience.

How the story is told doesn’t matter, as long as that story is a wholesome PG-rated romance (no tongues, kids!) with plenty of rolling Irish hills (they are gorgeous) and even more chances for our girl Finley to be magical.

Can that musical hobo Seamus (Patrick Bergin) bring out the passion in Finley’s playing? Can she step dance into town and finally end the decades long feud between mean Mrs. Sweeney (Vanessa Redgrave!) and her sister, while also coming to terms with her own brother’s memory and helping Beckett to be his own man?

Will she ever remember to go to class?

It’s Mainly Liverpudlians

Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool

by Hope Madden

Jamie Bell is a versatile, talented actor too often relegated to minor roles.

Annette Bening has always been a powerful performer.

Director Paul McGuigan—Victor Frankenstein, Lucky Number Slevin, Wicker Park—is, unfortunately, just not that good.

So, there you have it. In their collaboration, Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool, Bening and Bell generate honest chemistry while imbuing their characters with relatable flaws and beauty. McGuigan surrounds them with flashy staging conceits and the single ugliest wallpaper the world has ever known.

It’s 1979 in Liverpool, and struggling young actor Peter Turner (Bell) makes the acquaintance of his quirky new neighbor, former silver screen siren Gloria Graham (Bening).

A one-time Oscar winner fallen on hard times, pretty, flirty and nearly 30-years his senior, Gloria is a mystery to Turner and, in turn, to us. Here is where the two leads rise above their script to develop something touching and lovely, something that mines the earth between starstruck and true love. It’s wonderful to behold.

Bening adopts a baby voice as she oscillates between headstrong and insecure, but she seems to fully understand this figure who, in her time, was a daily scandal. Bening moves from seductress to damaged old woman and back again with fluidity and without excuses.

Here’s how McGuigan wrecks it.

1) We get it. It’s the Seventies. Does every surface—including co-star Stephen Graham’s head—have to be covered in garish, patterned shag? The costume and set design are beyond distracting. They will actually make you dizzy.

2) Bening cannot help but pique your interest in Gloria Graham’s life, and several courtship scenes expose something unique and quite worth an entire film. Unfortunately, the movie itself is a maudlin exercise in watching the decay of a once-vibrant woman, punctuated by flashes of that vibrancy.

3) He picks at themes of humanizing that which we objectify, even using fun visual nods to the seductive artifice of movies to slide between time spans, but he can’t truly abandon blandly by-the-numbers storytelling.

Which is a shame because, between the two stellar leads and a handful of amazing supporting turns (Vanessa Redgrave and Frances Barber leave marks) there was really something here.