Quick awards season takes: Lady Macbeth and, erm... Despicable Me 3


Awards season is here! In Hollywood's head this means glitz and glamour. In reality, John Travolta is dusting down his tux, ready to prowl the red carpets performing all kinds of 'hilarious' 'shenanigans'. Meanwhile, studios are organising their pushes for awards-likely releases, which brings me neatly on to...

Lady Macbeth, which will probably feature at a few of the independently-minded awards and may sneak onto the BAFTAs in some way shape or form. The writing debut of Alice Birch and the feature debut of director William Oldroyd, the film looks lovely, but nevertheless manages to leave you sitting in a slightly uncomfortable manner. Some of this may be my own fault. For whatever reason (and I'm aware it should be fairly obvious) I did not have where the film was going pegged and the change in tone over what appeared to be an interesting sexual awakening drama left me a little cold. It's a cop out, but I need to see it again: the feeling I left with - of the character handling being flat-footed - may be down entirely to my expectations of where it was going to go.

That said, there are definite areas that smacked of 'first draft'. The story, based on a novel by the Russian writer, Nikolai Leskov, hinges on a character losing the power of speech when she has information to share that would stop the plot in its tracks. In writing terms that's a whisker away from everything being a dream and in directing terms it's never sold well enough to make you forget it. The opening is also a little too full of hints about Katherine's (Florence Pugh) wild nature. She talks of being 'comfortable outside', whilst other characters mix thinly veiled metaphors about animals being tied up for too long. Pugh is good but overall and, again, on first viewing only, it didn't live up to some of the effusive praise it has received.

At the other end of the spectrum, Despicable Me 3 starts with two minions becoming DJs after the opening action sequence. Their hit of choice is Ricky Martin's 1995 'classic' Un, Dos, Tres, Maria which tells you all sorts of things about how out of touch the film is and how clever the 'jokes' and musical cues are going to be.

Universal is pushing Despicable Me 3 for Best Animated gongs, but really this is the franchise running its course. The writing and jokes are lame compared to the first two films and even the minions offer little respite this time round. The story ideas test the definition of that word, opting for the 'long lost sibling' angle and doing very little of interest with it beyond the initial, obvious, 'surprise' jokes.

Worse, the film seems to have completely lost sight of what crowds of children want to watch. Even adults are likely to be a bit non-plussed by the ex-child TV star villain, complete with eighties tash, charmless robot companion and near constant glitterball accessory. What nine year-olds will make of jokes pitched around Rubix cubes is anyone's guess, but as someone who actually knows what a Rubix cube is, I'm happy to tell them that they weren't funny.

It lost me at Un, Dos, Tres and never offered anything that suggested that decision was in any way isolated or forgivable.



By Sam Turner. Sam is editor of Film Intel, and can usually be found behind a keyboard with a cup of tea. He likes entertaining films and dislikes the other kind. He's on , Twitter and several places even he doesn't yet know about.

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