May 26, 2015 | Rome, Italy | Sunny 26°C
Search film reviews:
Genre: Keyword:

Biopics

Big Eyes

Tim Burton fails to animate a story about an American painter whose art is "stolen" by her husband.

Comedy-Romantic Comedy

Wild Tales (Relatos salvajes)

Argentine director Damián Szifron shows how little things gone amiss can produce dark twists.

Wild Canaries

Laurence Michael Levin's screwball comedy is neither screwy nor particularly funny.

Drama

Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

Michael Keaton is the mesmerizing fall guy in Alejandro González Iñárritu’s movie about acting, celebrity and identity.

Fifty Shades of Grey

Sam Taylor-Johnson's painful take on E.L. James's BDSM novel leaves everyone shackled.

The Duellists

There's plenty of style to spare in Ridley Scott's Napoleon-era first feature.

Hollywoodland

A story about what might have happened to the original Superman is stylish but shallow.

Horror

The Canal

Irish writer-director Ivan Kavanaugh's haunted house riff does all the right things, but flatly.

Love Eternal

A horror thriller about bereavement, estrangement and necrophilia is odd but incomplete.

Westerns

The Homesman

Tommie Lee Jones again proves himself at home making and starring a Western.




Date: 2014
Directed by: Kevin Macdonald
Starring: Jude Law, Scooter McNairy, Ben Mendelsohn, David Threlfall

Black Sea

Imagine a bank heist in which the thieves hatch a devious plan only to find themselves trapped underground inches from the vault. Now, add a submarine, lost gold, avaricious mercenaries, and every manner of underwater claustrophobia. Director Kevin Mcdonald's conventional and ultimately farcical thriller borrows from World War II-era submarine dramas and doomed robber tales, hoping conflict and chaos can overcome shortfalls in plot and character development. They don't.

Robinson (Jude Law) is a sub captain unceremoniously laid off by his marine salvage firm. A former mate tells him of the legend of a Nazi U-Boat laden with gobs of gold, and Robinson sells the idea of salvaging the gold to a laconic mogul. Next comes purchasing a decrepit Russian sub in Sebastopol and making for the Black Sea. Once on board, blue-collar Brits quarrel with blue-collar Russians (ah, greed), and all manner of testosterone mayhem ensues. Not enough of it, of course, to prevent the fortune-seekers from eying their prize.

Just when all seems lost comes an endgame twist, inducing the embittered but family-loving Robison to brogue, "I'm not going home poor." If only he just took the money and ran. Instead, McDonald indulges 30 muddled minutes of man-eat-man absurdity that literally drowns any remaining vestiges of cinematic good will. It's anyone's guess why the Glasgow-born Mcdonald ("The Last King of Scotland," "State of Play") dove into these messy waters. "Either it's going to work or it's not," says a gnarled Russian of a makeshift repair. This doesn't.

Reviewed by: Marcia Yarrow
Day and Boarding International High School in the Heart of Rome

Everything you need to know about visiting or moving to Tuscany, Italy.