Belfast Telegraph

Sunday Life

Film releases: Female lover no victim in bloodfest

Revenge (Cert 18, 108 mins)

First-time French writer-director Coralie Fargeat seizes the exploitation horror subgenre by its privates and refuses to let go as she puts a feminist slant on the blood-thirsty battle of the sexes between a rape victim (Matilda Anna Ingrid Lutz) and her attackers to echo the fiery indignation of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements.

Shot in Morocco, but set in an unspecified sun-baked wilderness, Revenge gleefully embraces gore-slathered visual excess including one whoop-inducing scene of the heroine forcibly removing a sliver of glass with trembling fingers from her eviscerated foot.

The film wears its 18 certificate as a badge on honour, spattering the camera lens with bodily fluids, occasionally for comic effect like a climactic scene of two characters slip-sliding uncontrollably down tiled corridors coated in glistening crimson.

Revenge serves up that courageous, gutsy retaliation with lashings of stylistic flair.

Sherlock Gnomes (Cert U, 86 mins)

John Stevenson's computer-animated sequel to the 2011 family comedy Gnomeo & Juliet opens promisingly with three pointy-hatted garden gnomes congregating around a beautifully bound storybook, deliberating which pint-sized yarn to spin for our delectation.

However, that's where the promise ends. Written by Ben Zazove, Sherlock Gnomes is a predictable tale of strained friendships and diabolical deeds.

Vocal performances fall flat, including Johnny Depp's plummy take on the titular sleuth.

Star-crossed lovers Gnomeo (voiced by James McAvoy) and Juliet (Emily Blunt) relocate to London with the rest of the ornaments including Lord Redbrick (Sir Michael Caine), Lady Bluebery (Dame Maggie Smith), Benny (Matt Lucas), Nanette (Ashley Jensen), Paris (Stephen Merchant) and Fawn (Ozzy Osbourne).

While Gnomeo and Juliet are otherwise engaged in a flower shop, a shadowy figure kidnaps the newly arrived denizens of the garden.

Sherlock Gnomes (Johnny Depp), sworn protector of London's garden gnomes, investigates with sidekick Watson (Chiwetel Ejiofor).

Sherlock Gnomes is elementary in the most unflattering sense, punctuating the title character's laboured investigation with perfunctory action sequences set to classics from the Elton John back catalogue.

In stark contrast to the writing, the animation is polished. There is no greater disappointment than a beautifully wrapped present with little of appreciable value inside.

Belfast Telegraph

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