Empire of Light: a masterful Olivia Colman in the new film by Sam Mendes

Olivia Colman and Micheal Ward in the movie Empire of Light.

© Searchlight Pictures

Far from his previous James Bond (Sky Fall, Spectrum) with big budgets, the director Sam Mendes returns to the cinema today with a more modest story, but no less successful, which confirms his talent as a filmmaker on all scales.

In theaters March 1, Empire of Light tells the life of the cinema of a small seaside town in England and those who make it live. Here is our review of the film, guaranteed without spoilers.

The film’s story

Hilary is in charge of a cinema in an English seaside town and tries to preserve her fragile sanity. Stephen is a new employee who only aspires to leave this provincial town where every day can quickly turn into an ordeal. By getting closer to each other, they will learn to heal their wounds through music, cinema and the feeling of belonging to a group.

Olivia Colman, lead actress of Empire of Light.

Olivia Colman, lead actress ofEmpire of Light.

© Searchlight Pictures

Our review ofEmpire of Light

We left Sam Mendes in 2019 with the superb 1917. her newborn baby, Empire of Light, may be less impressive in form, it is nonetheless a brilliant film. Far from the ostentatious staging and long sequence shots of his war film, the British director salutes the poetry of everyday life, the magic of the cinema and the saving power of films.

Set in the early 1980s, Empire of Light is intended to be the portrait of an era and its flaws, in the midst of the Thatcherite period in Great Britain. a patina vintage which gives a certain charm to the work, but also echoes our era. The story tackles issues of racism, social alienation and a certain state of decay in the art and innocence of society. Themes dear to Sam Mendes, magnificently embodied by a golden cast.

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Empire of Light, March 1 at the cinema.

Empire of LightMarch 1 at the cinema.

© Searchlight Pictures

Because Empire of Light is above all a beautiful gallery of characters. Headlining Olivia Colman (The Favorite, The Crown) delivers a performance that is once again breathtakingly accurate, as radiant in pure happiness as it is heartbreaking in the most intense distress. If young Michael Ward (small axis) confirms his status as an actor to follow, the supporting roles (Colin Firth, Toby Jones, Hannah Onslow…) are each entitled to their moments, ultimately creating a fine set of endearing characters.

The film does not avoid a soft stomach and some scriptwriting facilities will require a certain abandonment of the spectator. Notwithstanding, Empire of Light weaves a kind of social tale to the glory of cinema and the community it creates. Helped by the magnificent images of Roger Deakins (cinematographer of blade runner 2049 And No Country for Old Menin particular), this feature film floats between dream and reality, a humanist tale and a dark social narrative.

Clin Firth and Micheal Ward in Empire of Light.

Clin Firth and Micheal Ward in Empire of Light.

© Searchlight Pictures

Empire of Light will undoubtedly appeal more to moviegoers who will savor this cry of love at the cinema. But the film has a universal dimension that will certainly affect everyone. A suspended and optimistic parenthesis, not without flaws, but which will leave you with a smile on your face and tears in your eyes. One of the very beautiful films of this beginning of the year.

Empire of Light hits theaters on March 1.

  • Watch the movie trailer:

Where can I watch other Sam Mendes movies online?

Are you a fan of the British director? You will have to go to the Paramount + platform to enjoy its (rare) films available for streaming, such as the cult American Beauty (1999) and The Rebel Weddings (2008) with Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet. Canal+ subscribers can also enjoy very good sound Jarhead: The End of Innocence (2005).

Note that Paramount+ is available in the Canal+ Ciné Séries offer (€34.99/month) of the encrypted channel, alongside Netflix and Disney+.



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