Tag Archive: Tom Couternay


Doctor Zhivago is a classic piece of epic cinema, it has an emotive, character driven story that succeeds in getting the right reaction from the audience without truly blowing them away.

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Directed by David Lean this a film, which you instantly expect to look wonderful and have an epic scope. And it does both of these as we follow the titular Dr. Zhivago (Omar Sharif) in his journey through war, revolution and love. It is the sort of slow building drama that is rarely seen in modern cinema and is loveable just for that. There is no reliance on action sequences or gimmicks as it build up the tension through actor performances, dramatic situations and some fantastic cinematography.

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Everything in the film is beautiful from the design, costumes and make-up right through to the lighting and camerawork. Every detail seems to have been thought about in detail and be used to convey some hidden meaning and whilst this is technically amazing, it is at points a bit too much. The film becomes too drawn into being technically what you’d expect that it lacks any sort of heart and flair… the audience reacts the right way but ultimately just feel as if they’ve been put through the motions.

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The film is both broad and personal in its themes. It tackles politics and war whilst also focusing on love and family. These contrast work wonderfully to draw an audience into the story, it’s just a shame the film doesn’t quite have the pay off you want. It is a film which although epic doesn’t have the punch of other classics such as Lawrence of Arabia (1962) and Gone With The Wind (1939).

Doctor Zhivago is a wonderfully crafted piece of cinema that tells a great story but in many ways it too perfect to be loved.

8/10

Billy Liar is a British comedy-drama which mixes reality with fantastical delusions in a poignant film filled with inevitable sadness.

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The film begins with the titular Billy (Tom Courtenay) lying in bed imagining a parade in his honour in the imaginary country of Ambrosia. In this fantasy Billy plays various different high-ranking members of society and everyone is happy. Then suddenly the fantasy is ended by Billy’s mother calling him down to breakfast in an abrupt transition, and we lay witness to Billy’s real and depressing life in which he has only his dreams to motivate him.

As the film continues it becomes abundantly clear however that Billy is not just a dreamer who aims to write a novel (amongst various other cliché dreams) but also a compulsive liar who has several outrageous lies all on the verge of being uncovered, these lies include an engagement to two different women, a ‘job’ as a scriptwriter in London and forgetting to post some 300 calendars for his current boss.

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Each of these lies allows the film to produce a mix of comic moments and fantastic drama in a film that switches between the two on a consistent basis. It is absorbing to watch as you have no idea which of Billy’s lies is going to come next or what he is going to say.

Interposing all of this reality is the continuation regular fantasy sequences where we get to see the situations from Billy’s mind. These scenes allow a fantastic insight into Billy’s mind by do make the story drag out a little and the shots of ‘Army Billy’ shooting people become a little too repetitive you start to wonder if he’s going to become a mass murderer – then you remember that the films set in England not America.

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The fantasy sequences however do serve an important purpose to the overall film as they allow the audience to instantly relate to Billy and to become totally engrossed in his character (this also thanks to the great performance by Courtenay). During the final sequence of the film there is such a sense of the inevitability of what’s going to happen but also a want for it to be different. So much so that I was almost shouting at the screen in my passion for Billy to improve his life. But alas the character does not progress and I guess that’s the point.

 

A sad look into British life, Billy Liar is a coming-of-age film in which the lead character chooses not to grow up.

 

8/10

45 Years is a slow-building, emotional drama that raises thoughtful questions about the past and it’s affect on present day relationships.

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Kate (Charlotte Rampling) and Geoff (Tom Couternay) have been happily married for years… in fact their titular 45th wedding anniversary is approaching as the film begins and they are looking forward to celebrating it. That is until Geoff receives some terrible news that stirs up memories of his life before Kate and threatens all their years of love.

The film keeps everything incredibly simple. Be it bare and bleak set design, the long perfectly framed shots or the subtle performances. The film is a marvel of proper filmmaking… everything seems to be done for a reason and only adds to the films coldness.

The performances of the lead cast are wonderful. Although at the start of the film it does feel like Rampling is over-acting a little and all her movements seem a little forced as the film progresses so does her performance, which during the final scenes is mind-blowing as she conveys more through a look on her face than any dialogue can. Courtenay takes a more subtle approach as his has a backseat throughout the film, stepping forward to show his skill at key points in the wonderfully written script.

45 Years offers such a bleak reflection of reality and relationships that is, at time, hard to watch. There is nothing in the film to be happy about and it’s depressing, reflective mood is infectious to those watching. It leaves an audience in a bleak mood and lingers in your mind for long after. If anything it’s depressing outlook is too much and it leaves you wishing for a glimpse of joy.

7/10