Empire of Light

Empire of Light

A love story set in and around an old cinema on the South Coast of England in the 1980s.

  • Released: 2022-11-12
  • Runtime: 115 minutes
  • Genre: Drama, Romance
  • Stars: Olivia Colman, Colin Firth, Tanya Moodie, Hannah Onslow, Crystal Clarke, Sara Stewart, Adrian McLoughlin, Spike Leighton, Ashleigh Reynolds, Mark Goldthorp, Dylan Blore, Eliza Glock, Tim Samuels, Jamie Whitlow, Dougie Boyall, D.J. Bailey, George Whitehead
  • Director: Sam Mendes
 Comments
  • michael-kerrigan-526-124974 - 11 January 2023
    A wonderful ode to cinema
    Empire of Light. Olivia Colman (The Favourite), Toby Jones (Berberian Sound Machine) and Micheal Ward (Top Boy) star in a magnificent ode to cinema. There are supplementary story lines about mental health and (anti-)racism which add to the overall whole. I've not felt such a warm glow being in a cinema in years. This film MUST be seen in a cinema as intended, where much of the film is set. The acting is ubiquitously brilliant, as you might expect from such a stellar British cast. I'd like to think the film will make you a little bit of a better person for watching it. Absolutely wonderful. An early contender for film of the year. 9 out of ten.
  • Sees All - 26 December 2022
    Sensitive and Moving
    EMPIRE OF LIGHT is an intelligent and literate film written and directed by Sam Mendes. Set in 1980/81 in an English seaside town, it tells the story of Hillary, a plumpish spinster who assistant-manages a movie theatre that has seen better days. She seems rather ordinary at first, but gradually we see how complex she is, and how she has to navigate her way through a life that is a kind of hell. But she reads poetry, and quotes poetry, and has tremendous empathy for her fellow humans. The theatre gets a new employee, Stephen, a young black man trying to improve his lot during a period of racial tension. Hillary and Stephen establish an unlikely bond that must, in their environment, be hidden. It turns out that there are other secrets in that environment, too.

    The literate script (by Mendes) is quite evocative not only of Fassbinder (FEAR EATS THE SOUL), but also of Chekhov (especially THE SEAGULL), and the David Lean film of BRIEF ENCOUNTER. Some of the poets cited are Tennyson, W. H. Auden, and T. S. Eliot.

    The film is quietly suspenseful, thanks greatly to the finely nuanced performance of Olivia Coleman as Hillary. Her role is a mental high-wire act, and she performs it beautifully. It is a moving performance aided by a splendid supporting cast. Even those actors in very small roles are memorable. Costumes, art direction, and cinematography are all first-rate. Mendes reminds us again how good he is.