Published On: Thu, Jan 5th, 2023

Empire of Light review: Achingly beautiful to look at but script lacks lofty pretensions | Films | Entertainment


Sadly the script, the first penned by the Bond director himself, doesn’t quite live up to the title’s lofty pretensions. This is clearly one of those ‘love letters to the cinema’ movies but the melodramatic plot is a bit more EastEnders than Cinema Paradiso.

The setting is a gorgeous art deco picture house in Margate in 1981 where industrious manager Hilary (Colman) has just returned to work after recovering from an unspecified mental illness.

Hilary’s road to wellness involves a toxic relationship with her boss (Colin Firth), a romance with a handsome co-worker (Micheal Ward), a race riot and a toe-curling speech at a film premiere.

There’s a lot going on here and the various strands don’t quite come together. But it’s achingly beautiful to look at.

Through Deakins’ lenses, a dowdy seaside resort in 80s Kent almost looks as swooningly romantic as Cinema Paradiso’s post-war Sicily.

  • Empire of Light, Cert 12A, In cinemas on Monday



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