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Empire of Light

 

Year: 2022 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 (Scope) 
Certificate: BBFC 15 Cert – Not suitable for under 15s 
Subtitles: This film is not expected to be subtitled, though this cannot be guaranteed. 
Directed by Sam Mendes 
Starring: Olivia Colman, Micheal Ward, Colin Firth  
An image from Empire of Light


Review:

After a rocky few years for the film industry, we’re in dire need of a new addition to the ‘love letter to cinema’ genre, and who better to create one than the director of such varied masterpieces as 1917, American Beauty and Shrek the Musical, Sam Mendes. In his first outing as a writer as well as a director, Mendes has outdone himself with this engrossing, magical and poignantly observed drama about love, life, and cinema-going.

Hilary, played beautifully by award winning actress and national treasure Olivia Colman, is the depressed manager of the once-grand Empire cinema, located on the Margate seafront in 1931. Despite the close-knit crew working there (with an excellent cast including Colin Firth and Toby Jones), Hilary finds herself lonely, in a toxic relationship, and hiding the secret of the Empire’s dire finances.

But then the Empire hires a new ticket-seller, Stephen (Micheal Ward), with whom Hilary has an instant connection. Their relationship blossoms, even as we watch Hilary’s sadness rise alarmingly to the surface. The cinema is a picturesque background to their quietly unfolding romance, serving as an island of calm away from the racism targeting Stephen on the streets outside, even as Hilary’s sadness rises to the surface.

Empire of Light is a heartfelt, enchanting film, which shines in the small details, and is held up by some truly spectacular performances. Where better to enjoy this film about the magic of the movies than WSC!

Olivia Lancastle

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Screenings of this film:

2022/2023 Spring Term (35mm)
2022/2023 Spring Term (35mm)