A drama about the power of human connection during turbulent times, set in an English coastal town in the early 1980s Empire Of Light.
Would You Like To Watch Empire Of Light
Hilary (Olivia Colman) is 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.
A light in darkness lies
“Sometimes people need stories more than food to stay alive.” – Barry Lopez
The vintage Empire cinema is one of those rare places where people experience something magical to light up their lives in the cynical, broken world. Hilary, who opens the theatre doors in the morning, does not care for such nonsense. To her, with a troubled past and anger issues, it is just a job and routine.
Hilary goes about her business, does sexual favors for the boss in his office, and eats dinner alone at home. Things change when a young black man, Stephen, is hired at the Empire. Hilary takes Stephen under her wing and shows him interesting things about the theatre and its employees. When they encounter a hurt bird, Stephen impresses Hillary with his kindness in helping the bird to fly again. Hilary and Stephen open their hearts to each other. However, it isn’t long before Hilary’s darker issues surface once more.
No one is going to give you the life you want, you must go out and get it.
This tender, inspiring, and compassionate film takes us to Britain in the 1980s. Star actors include Olivia Colman, Michael Ward, and Colin Firth, and the cinematographer Roger Deakins. Director Sam Mendes, Colman, and Deakins were present at this Canadian premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival. It was a personal film for Mendes whose mother had “mental trouble.” Deakins added that one of her good qualities of Mendes is that he likes to make films about real people. One of the main themes of the film is that each person has pain that they deal with. Ask about people, check on them, and don’t turn your back on anyone.
Colman Will Take Your Breath Away
Olivia Colman is the shift manager of the Empire movie theatre (the exteriors are taken off the Dreamland in Margate) in 1980. It’s a first-run theatre that is about to have the Southeast England premiere of CHARIOTS OF FIRE. Miss Colman is a mess. She’s on Lithium for the manic-depressive syndrome, conducting an affair with married manager Colin Firth, and her life is reduced to a bare minimum of routine. The new hire Micheal Ward shows up and gradually Miss Colman wakes up…. and while she goes off her meds and has a meltdown, her coworkers are revealed.
It’s a long, slow slog of a year for everyone — except for Firth, who gets his comeuppance in the second act — as Miss Colman and Ward are knocked down and try to pick themselves up again and find it is evil in the world, but compassion in the cinema: at least the staff of the Empire, where no one ever looks at a movie.
Miss Colman gives a bravura performance with a large assortment of effects as she takes her Lithium, goes off her lithium, drinks, and so forth. But Tom Brooke is outstanding as her coworker who sees everything and Toby Jones is always a worthwhile addition to any movie, as the projectionist who sees what he does as a beam of light in the darkness.
Mendes chooses a restrained presentation, and though many of us believe in that feeling of elation associated with movies, no one believes movie magic is a cure for anything as serious as mental illness or racism. There are some terrific individual scenes that work better than the movie as a whole, but it’s unclear whether the film needed to be shorter, longer or just better constructed.
|Pippa Harris, Sam Mendes
|Trent Reznor Atticus Ross
|Neal Street Production
|03 September 2022 (Telluride)
13 January 2023 (United Kingdom)
|United Kingdom, United States
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