All the Light We Cannot See — Netflix
Anthony Doerr’s acclaimed and Pulitzer winning novel comes to screen in a highly anticipated limited Netflix series adaptation that gives its source material a heavy dose of schmaltz for what is ultimately a disappointingly sentimental mess. Impressive newcomer Aria Mia Loberti stars as blind French teen Marie-Laure whose life intersects with that of German soldier Werner (Louis Hoffmann) through the power of radio communication, drawing them into a conspiracy involving a mystical diamond that the Nazis are intent on capturing.
Written by Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight, directed by Shawn Levy (The Adam Project, Free Guy) and co-starring Mark Ruffalo and Hugh Laurie, it’s a show that while it offers some lush and evocative period visuals suffers from self-indulgence that’s all the more perplexing and disappointing when one considers the many layers of complexity offered by Doerr’s book.
Nyad — Netflix
Directing couple Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin manage to turn what on many levels is a predictable by the numbers inspirational true story of human perseverance and endeavour into an engaging and moving drama. That’s thanks mostly to the dedication of lead actor Annette Bening who plays real-life athletic heroine Diana Nyad, a former marathon runner who left athletics behind to enjoy a three-decade career as a successful sports journalist before deciding, at age 60, to achieve her lifelong ambition of swimming the treacherous 177km open-ocean swim from Florida to Cuba without the safety of a shark cage. Excellently assisted by Jodie Foster in the role of Nyad’s best friend turned coach Bonnie Stoll, Bening gives Nyad a stubborn determination that has you rooting for her success and believing in the power to achieve one’s dreams at any age.
Sly — Netflix
Sylvester Stallone sits, stands and walks around his old New York neighbourhood of Hell’s Kitchen in this surprisingly engaging documentary about the legendary action hero’s life and career; the regrets he’s had and the lessons he’s learnt. There’s plenty of Rocky and Rambo. Stallone turns out to be a talented raconteur whose anecdotes and introspection add some useful layers to his on-screen action figure image and remind us that he is at heart an artist, with acting and screenwriting Oscar nominations to prove it.
Fingernails — Apple TV+
Greek director Christos Nikou’s examination of the impossible marriage of artificial intelligence (AI) and love is a quietly thoughtful, slyly absurd and smart piece of futurist big-issue exploration. It’s set in a world where AI is able to remove worry, uncertainty and divorce from the complicated, anxious business of human relationships by performing an infallible test that will tell couples whether they’re compatible. Frustrated former teacher Anna (Jessie Buckley) is relieved to know that according to the test, she and her quiet, nice-guy boyfriend Ryan (Jeremy Allen White) are scientifically meant to be together forever.
When Ryan’s easy acceptance of the dull routine of their relationship pushes Anna to investigate further by joining the staff of the Love Institute, which specialises in helping couples towards taking the test, her belief in the infallibility of the system is tested when she finds herself falling in love with ace institute tester Amir (Riz Ahmed) and begins to believe that maybe matters of the heart will always be too mysterious for machines to simplify.
Quiz Lady — Disney+
Sandra Oh and Awkwafina star as a pair of testy sisters in this light but enjoyable comedy in which they are forced to team up and enter a quiz competition to help earn money to save their mother from crippling gambling debts. It’s not the basis for an intellectually challenging ride or an always satisfyingly realised mix of comic high jinks and family drama, but thanks to strong performances it manages to offer a suitably entertaining slice of Friday night escapism.
Would you like to comment on this article?
Sign up (it's quick and free) or sign in now.
Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.