FILM REVIEWS: Cabrini, Monster and Drive-Away Dolls will inform, educate and add spice

There’s a very strong Italian theme in one of this week’s films … and if that puts you in the mood for food then there’s plenty of appropriate food venues on Westside.

Right next door to Cineworld at No 175 Broad Street is Del Villaggio where menus include main, lunch, set, kids and vegan – margherita pizza is £12.95 and a tagliatelle bolognaise is £15.50. Fancy splashing out? A 9oz fillet steak is £29.50.

Other Italian restaurants nearby include Rudy’s Pizza and Piccolino, both just over the road in Oozells Square, Brindleyplace.

CABRINI (12A, 142 mins). Catholic missionary Francesca Cabrini battles sexism and anti-Italian feelings to launch her hospital charity dream in poverty-hit New York in the late 19th century. Alejandro Gomez Monteverde directs Cristiana Dell’Anna in the title role.

The verdict: *** Catholics in particular will love this story of a woman who became America’s first female saint and a beacon for the positives in immigration.

Although Cabrini plays like a hagiographic Sunday afternoon matinee and the sepia tint is a bit overbearing, it’s still a film of some impressive ambition, determined to highlight the pioneering spirit of the kind of person you ought to be aware of even though you’ve probably never heard of her.

The efforts to get it made have delivered a kind of overlong, Euro-pudding movie determined to prove that women can always achieve anything when they are given the opportunity.

Because real drama is sacrificed on the altar of well-meaning earnestness, using the epilogue notes at the beginning instead might have shortened the running time and created more room for drama. 

But no matter … you’ll feel better for meeting Cabrini’s spirit which was fired in the crucible of New York and then spread impressively around the world thereafter. There’s even an Andrea Bocelli song over the end credits.

MONSTER (12A, 127 mins). The last Japanese film I raved about, Godzilla Minus One, won the special effects Oscar earlier this month. Monster has a very different meaning here in a film about the changing behaviour of a young boy at school that has his mother worried.

The verdict: **** From the moment it begins with a burning tower block, Monster will effortlessly transport you to Japan.

With themes of sexuality and domestic abuse as well as society and the media, the subtitled film packs a lot in alongside fine work by the late composer Ryuichi Sakamoto.

World cinema has much to teach Hollywood about to handle sensitive subjects like motherhood and how children grow up alongside each other for good or for bad. 

Director Kore-eda Hirokazu’s impressively multi-layered Monster is the best in class this year with especially fine performances by Soya Kurokawa (Minato) and Hinata Hiragi (Yori). If any of the subject matter is familiar territory, you could be moved to tears.

DRIVE-AWAY DOLLS (15, 84 mins). In a quickfire comedy thriller, two girls take a road trip to Tallahassee – without realising some criminals will be on their tail looking for the content of their hired car’s boot.

The verdict: *** The Ethan Coen half of The Coen Brothers (No Country For Old Men) plays it for laughs as nubile young women engaging in lashings of lesbian sex are being pursued by hapless older men.

Margaret Qualley and Geraldine Viswanathan play the road trip’s odd couple with real comedy star Beanie Feldstein somewhat underused.

A cross between the likes of Thelma & Louise and Nicolas Cage’s 30-year-old Red Rock West, the result is akin to watching an Edgar Wright film without Edgar Wright, the oddball comedy hitting some occasional high notes but failing to be underpinned by the kind of more dramatic, edge of seat ride that Wright gave us with Baby Driver (2017) or Quentin Tarantino with Death Proof (2007).

Note: Cabrini and Drive-Away Dolls are playing both Odeon Broadway Plaza and Cineworld Broad Street. Monster is at the latter only.

PICTURE CREDITS: Drive-Away Dolls, Universal; Monster, Picturehouse Entertainment. Cabrini, Angel Studios.

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