Empire of light: A disappointing Sam Mendes (review)

Empire of light: A disappointing Sam Mendes (review)

After Chazelle and Spielberg, Sam Mendes in turn signs his “love letter to cinema”. But multiply the banalities about the saving virtues of art.

Canal + will unveil this evening on television -and in encrypted- Empire of Light, by Sam Mendes, released at the start of 2023 in cinemas. Unfortunately, the director ofAmerican Beauty and of Sky Fall disappointed the editorial staff with its homage to the 7th art. Here’s our review, originally published when it was released in theaters.

Cinema takes the hypothesis of its imminent disappearance so seriously that these days it continues to celebrate its glorious past. A slightly depressing trend, but which produces exciting films, Babylon has The Fabelmans. With Empire of LightSam Mendes adds his stone to the building.

Babylon: a sumptuous tragicomic fresco (review)

After the big machines 007 and 1917it is a return for him to a more subdued vein, close to Rebel weddings : the film is first of all the painting of a solitude, that of Hilary (Olivia Colman), suffering from mental illness, suffocating in the grayness of an English seaside town, at the beginning of the 80s. She works at the Empire, the large cinema facing the sea.

The setting of the film is quite attractive, from its atmosphere of workplace comedy, with its picturesque employees and its detestable boss (Colin Firth against the job), with its extraordinary decor, this ghostly Art Deco palace, whose architecture echoes the existential dismay of the characters. But there is also something too manufactured here, an artificiality which will quickly torpedo the film, weighed down by its plot which we never believe (Hilary falls in love with a young black colleague, against a backdrop of rising racism in the Thatcher’s England) and soothing considerations on how art can heal our wounds.

Unlike the Chazelle of Babylonwho, from a reflection on the morbid dimension of cinema, produced an electrifying work, Mendes wants to tell us that cinema can reconcile us with life, but does so in a museum and sleeping form.

Trailer :


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