Matt’s New Release Breakdown: December 11th – December is here, so it’s time for my infrequent feature/review column to continue forward! In all seriousness, with an onslaught of new releases, I was overwhelmed at the possibility of crafting 6 reviews over a finite period. So with this week’s New Release Breakdown, I review two highly-coveted streaming titles along with a star-studded romantic comedy. Let’s get to it!
LET THEM ALL TALK – Directed by Steven Soderbergh
Synopsis: A famous author goes on a cruise trip with her friends and nephew in an effort to find fun and happiness while she comes to terms with her troubled past.
Steven Soderbergh is a transcendent talent in my book, a director with chameleon-like range that rarely crafts a dull narrative. With his latest work Let Them All Talk, Soderbergh and screenwriter Deborah Eisenberg bask in the opulence of their high-class setting. Soderbergh operates like a great composer, utilizing Thomas Newman’s jazzy score to confidently accent his signature visual eye. From the bright lighting to the intimate shot selection, few directors could bring this story to life with Soderbergh’s amplified precision.
Under all the visceral aesthetics, Let Them All Talk sharp character dynamics pack a stinging punch. Eisenberg proves to be an adept scribe with her debut outing, crafting a tale of miscommunication that reaches interesting ruminations on an artist’s work and the complex ways friendships evolve. Her bitting dialogue also makes a great canvas for the all-star cast to play in the sandbox. Meryl Streep, Dianne West, and Candice Bergen have a blast conveying into their distinct personas, with Streep wickedly employing the rich author’s prickly demeanor. Lucas Hedges offers one of his best performances to date as well, often selling the film’s most emotive frames as a precocious young adult.
While I am unsure if the film finds a fully-developed thematic throughline (the third act loses some of its steam as the multitude of conceits are batted around), Let Them All Talk extracts a bounty of unique pleasures from its seemingly-familiar set-up. I can’t wait to see what direction Soderbergh goes next with his endlessly evolving career.
Let Them All Talk is now available on HBO Max.
I’M YOUR WOMAN – Directed by Julia Hart
Synopsis: In this 1970s set crime drama, a woman is forced to go on the run after her husband betrays his partners, sending her and her baby on a dangerous journey.
Writer/director Julia Hart has been an under-appreciated voice the last few years (Miss Stevens and Fast Color cleverly subverted their genre formulas), but her latest I’m Your Woman may be her breakout to superstardom. Similar to her previous endeavors, Hart and producer/screenwriter Jordon Horowitz takes the conceits of your typical crime thriller and turn them on their head. The duo wisely paints around the corners of the traditional genre formula, centering their focus on a mother directly impacted by the vicious lifestyle.
Hart’s work brilliantly marries crime thriller’s pulpy appeals with an assured character study. As the timid Jean, star Rachel Brosnahan imbues dramatic weight into the character’s journey for self-ownership. Brosnahan and Hart wisely construct Jean into a lived-in persona, slowly allowing the character’s voice to grow as she escapes her domesticated lifestyle. Hart’s sharp visual eye elevates the material with a sweat-inducing tension, often hammering a real-world weight into the film’s violent frames (she also does a great job defining her film in its 70’s period). I do think the film’s second half loses some of its finite character moments in favor of action-oriented beats, but I appreciate Hart’s ability to deliver a nuanced take on the tried and true formula.
Finding a unique and well-developed perspective amongst its genre peers, I’m Your Woman marks another impressive step forward in Julia Hart’s ascending career.
I’m Your Woman is now available on Amazon Prime.
WILD MOUNTAIN THYMES – Directed by John Patrick Shanley
Synopsis: Headstrong farmer Rosemary Muldoon has her heart set on winning her neighbor Anthony Reilly’s love. The problem is, Anthony seems to have inherited a family curse, and remains oblivious to his beautiful admirer. Stung by his father’s plans to sell the family farm to his American nephew, Anthony is jolted into pursuing his dreams.
I’ll be honest, Wild Mountain Thyme was not on my radar until I heard rumors of an insane third act twist. I can certainly say writer/director John Patrick Shanley’s film delivers on that aspect (for those uninterested in the movie, I recommend this explanation), but his Irish-flavored romantic comedy rarely indulges in the genre’s pleasurable qualities.
I can get down with a hokey romantic comedy. Heck, I’d go as far as to say last year’s similarly twist-heavy Last Christmas stands as a modern Christmas classic. While Shanley’s film admirably steeps itself in a finite sense of culture, his offbeat endeavor never finds a comfortable balance. As a comedy, the Irish humor leans into well-trudged stereotypes over authentic observations. As a romance, the generic love triangle set-up lacks life despite the talents of Emily Blunt, Jamie Dornan, and Jon Hamm. Then there’s the gonzo third-act twist. I can see what Shanley’s trying to convey with his tying of humanity and nature, but it comes in far too late to ever find much purpose.
If you’re a fan of rom-coms, Wild Mountain Thyme boasts enough goofy pleasures to never truly condemn. That being said, the film’s lack of cohesion and charms make this more of a passive guilty pleasure viewing.
Matt’s New Release Breakdown: December 11th
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