Anthropoid

Director: Sean Ellis (2016) BBFC cert: 15

This agonising account of espionage and assassination makes for a gut wrenching watch.

It’s a handsome dramatisation of Operation Anthropoid, the real life mission to the eliminate Reinhard Heydrich, Hitler’s third in command and architect of the Final Solution.

As well as being a ferocious entertainment, Anthropoid is a moving testament to the astonishing defiance and sacrifice of the country’s citizens under the rule of the Nazi known as the Butcher of Prague.

Sean Ellis produces, directs and co-writes with confidence and authority. Filming on location, the autumnal palette weathers the lovingly crafted period detail with a sepia tone. It’s use heralds a ferocious finale and recalls the final moments of Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid (1969).

Betrayal is a recurring idea, perpetrated on the country and its citizens on an international, local and individual level. The British government is not spared admonishment.

Cillian Murphy and Jamie Dornan are terrific as patriots Jozef and Jan who risk torture and execution when they return by parachute to their homeland, Czechoslovakia.

Making contact with the pitiful remnants of the resistance, they discover Prague in the winter of 1941 is caught in a blizzard of suspicion and paranoia. There’s little safety in this turbulent world of coded conversations, cyanide capsules and clandestine meetings on park benches.

Anna Geislerova and Charlotte Le Bon are local ladies who soften the boys’ demeanour and raise their personal investment. One soldier becomes less fatalistic and the other learns to lead.

This intimate investment in the characters allows for fleeting humour and desperate romance. We fear the repercussions of the attack on those on the periphery of the plotting as much as for the main conspirators.

Among the remainder of the strong supporting cast, stalwart character actor Toby Jones offers dignified concern.

The sometimes graphic but always purposeful and excellently staged action culminates in the Orthodox Cathedral of Saints Cyril and Methodius, where the bullet holes sustained in the actual fight can still be seen.

@ChrisHunneysett

 

 

Fifty Shades of Grey

Director: Sam Taylor-Johnson (2015)

There’s lashings of domination but no romance in this steamy and silly fantasy as a billionaire grooms an eager student for his power-trip sex games.

A kinky combination of Pretty Woman and American Psycho lacking the charm of the former and the satire of the latter.

It’s based on the best selling novel by E. L. James and the writer keeps director Sam Taylor-Johnson on a short leash.

This is a shame as her great visual sense and sly wit are hamstrung by being bound tightly to the source material’s ropey plot and dialogue.

Anastasia ‘Ana’ Steele (Dakota Johnson) is a breathy, blushing brunette in a bad cardigan. She receives the opportunity to interview Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) for the university magazine. He’s a hunky, mega-wealthy, smart-suited super-creep.

Christian recognises the virginal Ana as a  suitable victim to be tutored to serve his own specific needs and begins to ply her with gifts.

He turns up at the hardware store where she works to buy some hobby materials; electrical cabling, grips and so on.

Soon she’s introduced to his private and exquisitely stocked dungeon, ‘the red room’.

In an entertainingly boardroom scene Christian asks Ana to sign a legally binding contract. In eye-watering detail it lists everything permissible in their future activities.

She must agree to be the submissive participant in his bondage sessions which are to include blindfolds, handcuffs and whips.

Both actors have impressive modelling CV’s and demonstrate excellent skills at looking great naked.

The most convincing fetish here is for a designer lifestyle of clothes, suits, accessories and furnishings: it’s a glossy centrefold advert of a production so edgy it features music by pop muppet Ellie Goulding.

There’s a trip in a glider because that what’s rich people do to emphasise how free-spirited they are.

As Ana is overwhelmed by passion for her new found pursuits, she grows more assertive which threatens the strict dynamic of their relationship.

If you liked the book you’ll probably enjoy this film but don’t tie yourself up in knots if you miss it.

☆☆☆