Film Friday: Enemy, A Field in England, The Grand Budapest Hotel and more

A quick scan of new releases in theatres this week


Enemy (Denis Villeneuve) captures Toronto with a wary outsider’s eye that makes it the best Hogtown movie since David Cronenberg’s Crash. Like that film, Enemy establishes T.O. as a glass-and-steel cocoon where people are so alienated from themselves (and each other) that they don’t even know who they are, a place where a frumpy history prof (Jake Gyllenhaal) and a motorcycle-riding wannabe actor (also Gyllenhaal) are entirely interchangeable. The lurid pleasures of Villeneuve’s identity-crisis mindfuck – a recurring tarantula motif, intimations of a members-only sex club in a condo basement and a strange cameo by Isabella Rossellini as an overbearing mother force-feeding her kid blueberries – are entirely trifling. But they’re put across with such giddy, nasty aplomb that it’s impossible not to savour them. And Gyllenhaal is terrific. Twice. 90 min.

Rating: NNNN (JS)

Opens Mar 14 at Cineplex Cinemas Empress Walk, Coliseum Mississauga, Coliseum Scarborough, Colossus, Courtney Park 16, Queensway, SilverCity Mississauga, Varsity, Yonge & Dundas 24. See here for times.


A Field in England (Ben Wheatley) is the Kill List and Sightseers director oddest work to date – and that’s really saying something. It’s 1648, and a cowardly servant (Reece Shearsmith) finds himself among a ragged group of English Civil War deserters commanded by a maniac (Michael Smiley) bent on finding the treasure he’s convinced is hidden somewhere in the eponymous location. Digging ensues, and also madness, divination, social disease and shovels to the face. Shot in widescreen black-and-white by Laurie Rose and edited by Wheatley and screenwriter Amy Jump, it’s alternately beautiful to behold and utterly assaultive. And though it’s being sold as a psychedelic picture, please do not take any mood-altering substances beforehand. Your head might explode. 91 min.

Rating: NNNN (NW)

Opens Mar 14 at Royal. See here for times.


The Grand Budapest Hotel (Wes Anderson) recounts the entirely fictional tale of Monsieur Gustave (Ralph Fiennes), the unflappable concierge of the eponymous mountaintop manse in the European country of Zubrowka, and his training of the young lobby boy Zero (Tony Revolori) in the ways of service and life. It is a story filled with intrigue and love and war and murder and betrayal and a fairly novel prison break, and if I was to say anything further about what director/co-writer Anderson does with Willem Dafoe as a sort of human bulldog you wouldn’t believe me. Anderson doesn’t even nod toward realism, as he did in Moonrise Kingdom he simply builds this magnificent playhouse, populates it with actors he knows and trusts – among them Adrien Brody, Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton, Jeff Goldblum and Edward Norton – and runs riot. And when moments of genuine emotion pierce that perfectly constructed artifice, they hit as powerfully as ever. That’s just how he works. 100 min.

Rating: NNNN (NW)

Opens Mar 14 at Queensway, Varsity. See here for times.


The Husband (Bruce McDonald) casts writer, producer (and ex-Deadly Snake) Maxwell McCabe-Lokos as Henry, a slight, bug-eyed and balding man whose wife (Sarah Allen) is in prison for sleeping with one of her students, leaving him to raise their infant son. Sleepwalking through his job at an ad agency, exiling himself to the couch in lieu of his spoiled marriage bed and barely tending to his kid, Hank’s a rat-king of anxiety. His motivations, and his jittery mental states, are left purposefully unclear. It’s a film that feels, often at the same time, manic, depressive, sinister and absurd – a movie as neurotic as McCabe-Lokos’s broken man. 80 min.

Rating: NNNN (JS)

Opens Mar 14 at TIFF Bell Lightbox. See here for times.


Veronica Mars (Rob Thomas) may have started as the definition of fan service – its very existence is the result of a Kickstarter campaign targeted directly at followers of the 2004-2007 television series starring Kristen Bell as a wisecracking teen detective – but it’s a proper feature film. Nine years after Veronica left her hometown of Neptune, California, to study law, she’s called back by old boyfriend Logan (Jason Dohring) when he’s accused of murdering his rock-star girlfriend. Naturally, no sooner does she arrive than she falls back into her old habits, uncovering conspiracies and rubbing Neptune’s power base the wrong way. Thomas and co-writer Diane Ruggerio take a season’s worth of story and fit it into a fun, fast-paced two hours, with appearances by virtually every character who survived the series. But the heart of the movie, as it was on the show, is the scrappy, supportive relationship between Bell’s Veronica and her wry, watchful dad, played by the wonderful Enrico Colantoni. I’d watch a whole movie of those two eating pizza. 108 min.

Rating: NNNN (NW)

Opens Mar 14 at Coliseum Mississauga, Eglinton Town Centre, Queensway, SilverCity Yonge, SilverCity Yorkdale, Yonge & Dundas 24. See here for times.


Stay (Wiebke von Carolsfeld) is highly attuned to the inner lives of its protagonists, all of them forced to confront anxieties concerning parenthood. But the film is also overburdened with incident, lacks momentum and deploys more characters than it can possibly develop. Dermot (Aidan Quinn) lives a quiet life on Ireland’s west coast. Abby (Taylor Schilling), his younger Canadian girlfriend, gets pregnant he’s against kids. A rift opens up and is filled with a great many supporting characters. Writer/director von Carolsfeld (Marion Bridge) could have distanced herself from her busy source material (Aislinn Hunter’s novel) and focused on what flies cinematically. Still, there’s lots of emotional resonance. 99 min.

Rating: NNN (José Teodoro)

Opens Mar 14 at TIFF Bell Lightbox. See here for times.


Need for Speed (Scott Waugh) dazzles with money shots of obscenely expensive cars as they tear down highways and kiss the sky. Showing his affinity for real stunt work, director Waugh pulls back on the CGI and gets dangerously close to the twisted metal. Too bad the movie stalls whenever it gets out of the driver’s seat. Breaking Bad’s Aaron Paul plays a wrongfully imprisoned ex-con pursuing vengeance as he leads police and bounty hunters on a coast-to-coast chase to a rarified race, where he will get retribution (apparently by winning). Paul’s attempt to channel Steve McQueen is muffled in a movie where plot and character are a hindrance. The story, which makes very little sense, sticks to the basic directions mapped out by the video game it’s based on: drive recklessly fast and furious and earn bonus points for every police cruiser that spins out in a blaze. 131 min.

Rating: NN (RS)

Opens Mar 14 at 401 & Morningside, Beach Cinemas, Cineplex Cinemas Empress Walk, Coliseum Mississauga, Coliseum Scarborough, Colossus, Courtney Park 16, Eglinton Town Centre, Grande – Steeles, Humber Cinemas, Queensway, Rainbow Market Square, Rainbow Promenade, Rainbow Woodbine, Scotiabank Theatre, SilverCity Fairview, SilverCity Yonge, SilverCity Yorkdale. See here for times.


In Fear (Jeremy Lovering) is a horror film about two people who get lost in rural Ireland. 85 min.

Opens Mar 13 at Coliseum Mississauga, Colossus, Eglinton Town Centre, Queensway, SilverCity Fairview, Yonge & Dundas 24. See here for times.


The Metropolitan Opera: Werther Live is a life high def broadcast of the Met’s new production of the Massenet opera, starring Jonas Kaufmann in the title role. 195 min.

Opens Mar 15 at Beach Cinemas, Cineplex Cinemas Empress Walk, Coliseum Mississauga, Coliseum Scarborough, Colossus, Eglinton Town Centre, Queensway, Scotiabank Theatre, SilverCity Fairview, SilverCity Yonge. See here for times.


Romeo and Juliet is a high-def broadcast of the recent Broadway production of the Shakespeare tragedy, starring Orlando Bloom, Condola Rashad and Canada’s own Brent Carver. 160 min.

Opens Mar 16 at Cineplex Cinemas Empress Walk, Coliseum Scarborough, Courtney Park 16, Queensway, SilverCity Yonge, Yonge & Dundas 24. See here for times.


Tyler Perry’s The Single Moms Club (Tyler Perry) stars Nia Long, Amy Smart and others as single moms who bond at their kids’ school. No press screening – see review March 17 at nowtoronto.com/movies. 110 min.

Opens Mar 14 at 401 & Morningside, Coliseum Mississauga, Coliseum Scarborough, Colossus, Courtney Park 16, Eglinton Town Centre, Rainbow Woodbine, SilverCity Yorkdale, Yonge & Dundas 24. See here for times.

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