Chemical Hearts (Amazon)Rating: Verdict: Teen love tearjerkerPerfumes (Curzon on demand and cinemas)Rating: Verdict: French olfactory odd couple Th
Chemical Hearts (Amazon)
Verdict: Teen love tearjerker
Perfumes (Curzon on demand and cinemas)
Verdict: French olfactory odd couple
The One And Only Ivan (Disney Plus)
Verdict: Live-action gorilla getaway
Film streamers such as Amazon and Netflix are churning out coming-of-age romances in a hormonal rush right now.
The latest, Chemical Hearts, will probably require a six-pack of tissues for teenage girls, with its plunge into hidden grief, stifled love and poetic passion in an American high school.
Possibly the film’s main sell is its protagonist, the droopy-haired, soulful Austin Abrams as 17-year-old Henry, who does a Timothee Chalamet-tribute performance which will please the picture’s core audience, and irritate everyone else.
Within seconds Grace has Henry reading poetry — ‘I love you as certain dark things are to be loved’ — and he is hooked
Henry edits the school newspaper, staffed mostly by his friends, until a new girl arrives and is foisted upon him as co-editor.
Grace (TV show Riverdale’s Lili Reinhart) is moody, dresses in baggy, grungy clothes and has a mysterious limp. She is clearly beautiful-but-damaged goods with a past, and straight-As Henry is intrigued.
Within seconds Grace has Henry reading poetry — ‘I love you as certain dark things are to be loved’ — and he is hooked.
While the literary themes might have worked in the original book, the film takes a superficial skate over everything, and one of the dafter moments has Grace dunking herself, Ophelia-style in a wedding dress, in a goldfish pond.
Meanwhile, Henry pontificates about the chemical effects of ardour on the synapses of his brain. ‘Being young is so painful,’ he sighs. So is watching this, for anyone over 15.
An amusing French drama, Perfumes, has a prescient take on what it is like to lose your sense of smell, a common event in these days of Covid-19.
The imperious Emmanuelle Devos plays Anne Walberg, a ‘nose’ or celebrity creator of perfumes, who has fallen on hard times.
Once she worked for Dior, but now Anne and her nose have been reduced to adding fragrance to the air being pumped through a replica tourist cave in Switzerland, and she needs a chauffeur to take her there.
Devos and Montel are pictured above in Perfumes. An amusing French drama, Perfumes, has a prescient take on what it is like to lose your sense of smell, a common event in these days of Covid-19
Enter Gregory Montel as Guillaume, a driver who also turns out to have discerning nostrils. Anne is a diva, obsessed with her work, and more likely to sniff a waitress’s perfume than thank her.
Guillaume is more human, struggling to make ends meet to regain his ten-year-old daughter after divorce. The two form an argumentative, platonic odd couple in this road movie, which could use a scratch-and-sniff card.
The description of smells is fascinating. The cave is ‘mineral, earthy, camphor, a bit of moss, oak . . .’ Anne rubs the stone walls again, ‘and iris root!’. The waitress’s perfume is ‘a dash of cheap citrus, a peppery hint, quite mediocre’. It’s as pretentious — and fun — as the vocabulary used by wine experts. But Anne falls apart when she loses her sense of smell.
Panic sets in and her controlling relationship with Guillaume starts to change. Perfumes is not the most thrilling concoction, but it’s a gently enjoyable waft through bourgeois French life.
The One And Only Ivan is a Disney live action and CGI children’s film inspired by the true story of a 400lb gorilla who lived for 27 years in an American shopping mall. The special effects are superb, and Ivan the silverback looks the real thing as he thumps his chest in the retail park.
Ivan is voiced by the laconic Sam Rockwell: ‘Hello. I’m Ivan. I’m a gorilla. It’s not as easy as it looks,’ he begins, dryly, and he seems satisfied living in theatrical semi-darkness in cages behind the scenes with the other circus performers.
Who wouldn’t? Stella the elephant is voiced by Angelina Jolie, and the performing poodle by Helen Mirren. Danny DeVito is Bob the mongrel who sleeps on Ivan’s ample stomach.
The One And Only Ivan is a Disney live action and CGI children’s film inspired by the true story of a 400lb gorilla who lived for 27 years in an American shopping mall
The ringmaster is played by Brian Cranston, who may appear charming to kids, but adult viewers will always have a suspicion that he might be cooking up some crystal meth, Breaking Bad-style.
The mall-circus is somewhat out of fashion, the gorilla slightly mangy and the elephant past her prime, but audiences flock back when a baby elephant arrives.
Her presence brings back memories of Ivan’s early life of freedom in Africa, and he starts scribbling with a crayon given to him by a little girl.
Young kids will love this, but for older ones, the emotional and physical journey is slow. Like the animals, the film is trapped and doesn’t go anywhere until the end.
Moving tribute to real sporting superheroes
Rising Phoenix (Netflix, Aug 26)
Verdict: Inspiring Paralympics documentary
Coup 53 (On demand and in cinemas)
Verdict: British spy plot in Iran
Rising Phoenix reveals the real-life struggles behind the athletes in the Paralympics: stories more amazing than any dramatist could imagine.
This documentary combines the thrill of sporting competition with an emotional deep dive into the competitors’ psyches.
‘We are all superheroes . . . because we have all lived through something that didn’t allow us to succeed,’ says one of the nine athletes profiled in the film.
Sixty years after the Paralympics launched in Rome, we see South African long-jumper Ntando Mahlangu flying through the air as he runs alongside a tame cheetah, mirroring the animal’s gait on two speeding blades after his legs were amputated below the knee.
His exhilaration leaves you on a high. Some of the resilience defies belief. Italian Bebe Vio is now 23, but as a child she had parts of her arms and legs amputated to save her from meningitis.
She was nicknamed ‘Rising Phoenix’ after she made a comeback, and the outpouring of tears and joy when she wins gold for fencing comes not just from that moment, but a lifetime of battles.
Winner: Paralympian Bebe Vio
The film covers the history of the games, founded by Jewish refugee and doctor Ludwig Guttmann, and interviews the Duke of Sussex, creator of the Invictus Games for injured, wounded and sick members of the armed forces.
The 2012 London Paralympics, when Jonnie Peacock won the 100 metres for Team GB, was a game-changer for the competition’s profile.
Advertising posters after the main Olympics said ‘Thanks for the warm up!’, and the events were packed. This documentary deserves a similar welcome.
Coup 53 is a gripping documentary which uncovers British intelligence’s key role in the 1953 coup in Iran, which overthrew democratically elected Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh and returned the Shah to power.
While it has always been admitted that the CIA and MI6 were involved in the ‘regime change’, after Mossadegh took control of Iran’s oil from the British, director Taghi Amirani finds a transcript of a secret interview from the English spy who choreographed the coup.
Torture, assassination and bribery were the order of the day, before the tanks rolled in, all seen in brutal archive footage. Ralph Fiennes turns up to re-enact the spy’s TV interview, which mysteriously disappeared before broadcast years ago.