Together

James McAvoy squats in the kitchen

Together is a select member of a new genre – the Covid Drama – and sees Sharon Horgan back working again with Dennis Kelly. Together they co-wrote Pulling, the TV relationship comedy that made both their names. Kelly went on to create and write the TV conspiracy thriller Utopia and Horgan to co-write the popular comedy series Catastrophe. This time around he writes, she acts (though you can’t rule out the possibility that there’s a fair amount of improvising going on too). Flipping the actual experience of many people – who found that the whole Covid experience (particularly the lockdowns in the UK) caused their relationship to buckle – Together is a funny/angry examination of a married … Read more

Made in Italy

Liam Neeson and Micheál Richardson

Made in Italy feels like it’s based on one of the books by Peter Mayle, the British advertising executive who tired of the life and lit out for France, where he set about writing lighthearted sun-dredged reports on his new life. A Year in Provence was the first and it sold very well. That became a TV series of the same name, starring John Thaw and Lindsay Duncan as the expatriate couple making a new go of it, and another Mayle book, A Good Year, later became a Ridley Scott film starring Russell Crowe as a Brit in Provence learning to be a bit less of a bull at a gate about life. … Read more

Starter for 10

Alice Eve, James McAvoy and Rebecca Hall in Starter for 10

    Write what you know, they say, and David Nicholls certainly does that here. An adaptation of his 2003 best-seller about a 1980s working class kid going to university, written by a 1980s working class kid who went to university, this comedy is full of period flavour and has the tang of authentic experience. Nicholls and director Tom Vaughan haven’t left success to chance, however, they’ve pumped all this bittersweet detail into the most durable of genre plots – the romantic comedy – with James McAvoy playing the Nicholls avatar, Brian Jackson, a fresher at the high-end Bristol university (Nicholls’s own alma mater) who is slightly out of his social class and … Read more

Filth

James McAvoy as the deranged cop Bruce Robertson in Filth

      The last film I saw that had any Irvine Welsh involvement was The Magnificent 11, a comedy so peculiarly inept that I started to think it was deliberate, a tax write-off perhaps, or a spoof of depressing British comedies of the early 1970s, in which girls with blue eye-liner would shed an ill-fitting bra to reveal dog-eared breasts.   Jon S Baird’s adaptation of Welsh’s 1998 novel is far more what we expect from the writer of Trainspotting. Welsh has been out of fashion just long enough to be due a comeback, but is this what our New Puritan age is clamouring for – the sweary, druggy, skanky story of a … Read more