ABC Film Challenge – Romance – F – Far from the Madding Crowd (2015) Movie Review

Director: Thomas Vinterberg

Writer: David Nicholls (Screenplay) Thomas Hardy (Novel)

Starring: Carey Mulligan, Matthias Schoenaerts, Michael Sheen, Tom Sturridge, Juno Temple

Plot: In Victorian England, the independent and headstrong Bathsheba Everdene attracts three very different suitors: Gabriel Oak, a sheep farmer; Frank Troy, a reckless Sergeant; and William Boldwood, a prosperous and mature bachelor.

Runtime: 1 Hour 59 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Costume Drama 101

Story: Far from the Madding Crowd starts as we meet the independent Bathsheba Everdene (Mulligan) who works on a family farm, with the neighbour of a shepherd Gabriel Oak (Schoenaerts) who becomes friends, leading to her first marriage proposal, only for her to refuse, wanting to remain independent.

After a tragic twist of events, Gabriel loses his farm, just as Bathsheba inherits her own farm, where Gabriel ends up working on. Bathsheba does continue to turn heads with William Boldwood (Sheen) being the latest man that wants to marry her and things get even more complicated when Sergeant Francis Troy (Sturridge) arrive on the property, leaving Bathsheba having three men wanting her love.

Thoughts on Far from the Madding Crowd

Characters – Bathsheba Everdene has always worked for a living, she has always wanting to remain independent, which sees her reject the first marriage proposal. She always attractions attention, even if that means she becomes everything she promised not to be. She will run a farm and isn’t afraid to get her own hands dirty, wanting to be fair to everybody who works for her too. Gabriel Oak is the quiet farmer that becomes friends with Bathsheba, he asks her to marry him before getting rejected and losing everything he owns, in a twist of events he ends up working for her, being her most loyal farmer, always putting the farm before rank. William Boldwood is a wealthy older man in town that wants to offer Bathsheba a chance to be his wife, he comes off fair with his offer, giving her the remaining independence, she requires. Sergeant Francis Troy is a full of himself soldier that has seen his love not turn up for their wedding, before turning his charm onto Bathsheba making her fall for everything he sells her on, never being the man she could be happy with.

PerformancesCarey Mulligan is great in the leading role, showing she is one of the go to actresses for a costume drama, while Matthias Schoenaerts continues to prove himself as one of the best actors in the business, Michael Sheen shines in the supporting role, while Tom Sturridge makes you want to hate his arrogant character.

StoryThe story here follows the lives of a farmers daughter and a neighbouring father as their fortunes change putting boundaries in their lives, when it comes to love and friendship. This is based on a classic Thomas Hardy novel and puts us into a world before women were allowed to independently think, with Bathsheba designed to go against the trends placed on front of her, only she doesn’t seem to make smart decisions, still trying to play into the traditions of what is known. The three love stories only have one of the three men being a sensible pick, with that same one being the only one with any sort of romantic connection about them. It doesn’t feel like this is anything we haven’t seen before, which just plays into the same old story we see all the time.

RomanceThe romance shows how Bathsheba must make up her mind on three potential partners, all from different background, even though she only has a spark with one of them.

SettingsThe film shows the farming like in the 1800’s and just what it would have meant to the people who run the farms, trying to find love and break boundaries.

Scene of the Movie – The storm.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Bathsheba does everything wrong in love.

Final Thoughts This is a typical costume drama which shows how the love felt should have just been followed, instead of leading us down a trail that was always going nowhere.

Overall: Costume Drama we have seen before.

ABC Film Challenge – Romance E – Everything, Everything (2017)

Director: Stella Meghie

Writer: J Mills Goodloe (Screenplay) Nicola Yoon (Book)

Starring: Amandla Stenberg, Nick Robinson, Anika Noni Rose, Ana de la Reguera, Taylor Hickson, Danube Hermosillo, Dan Payne, Fiona Loewi


Plot: A teenager who’s spent her whole life confined to her home falls for the boy next door.

Tagline – Risk everything… for love.

Runtime: 1 Hour 36 Minutes


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Charming & Delightful


Story: Everything, Everything starts as we meet Maddy (Stenberg) an 18-year-old girl that has never left her house because of her rare immune disorder, her mother Pauline (Rose) is a doctor and has everything prepared to keep her alive. She has been educated and studied at home with the care of her nurse Carla (Reguera).

Maddy’s life has always been dreaming of going outside and when Olly (Robinson) family moves in next door, they become attracted to one another. When the two risk her Maddy’s life her mother tries to forbid them being together, but how can love be held back?


Thoughts on Everything, Everything


Characters – Maddy is an 18-year-old girl, she has never left her home because of rare disorder, her imagination has helped her experience parts of the world and her education has been home schooled. She meets Olly and falls in love through a window and takes the chance to experience love for the first time. Olly is the new neighbour, he wants to become friends with Maddy and it soon turns to love, he has his own personal problems at home and the moments with her give him the freedom he wants. Pauline is the mother of Maddy, she is a doctor and has spent her life trying to make sure she stays safe in the home. Carla is Maddy’s nurse and the only friend she has in the world.

PerformancesAmandla Stenberg is fantastic in the leading role, she gives us the full range of emotions she goes through, from the pure enjoyment of her life to the pain she suffers. Nick Robinson, well this young man keeps popping up everywhere now for me, he was brilliant in Love Simon and here he was great to watch too. Anika Noni Rose does make for a good controlling mother.

StoryThe story here follows a teenage girl that live her life behind closed doors because of a rare disorder which could see her become sick at any moment, when she falls for the neighbour she decides she is willing to risk her life to be with him. This is a teenage romance story so we know we are going to get stumbling blocks in their love for the most part. This is told in such a way that we see how Maddy is telling her story about how she looks at life in a positive way for each moment almost accepting her place in the world. it does try to tell everyone to enjoy their life whatever gets in their way.

RomanceThe romance between Maddy and Olly is believable from start to finish, we get the awkward moments and the passionate moment.

SettingsThe film shows us how Maddy has made the most of her home, how her imagination works and where she wants to go into the world one day.

Scene of the Movie –
The trip.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Is it that easy to get to Hawaii?

Final ThoughtsThis is a delightfully entertaining movie that shows us just how love can turn your life upside down when that person walks into your life.


Overall: Special vision on life.




ABC Film Challenge – Romance – C – Larry Crowne (2011)

Director: Tom Hanks

Writer: Tom Hanks, Nia Vardalos (Screenplay)

Starring: Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, Pam Grier, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Holmes Osbourne, Taraji P Henson, Rob Riggle


Plot: After losing his job, a middle-aged man reinvents himself by going back to college.

Tagline – Never too late in life to start living.

Runtime: 1 Hour 38 Minutes


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Clichéd Rom Com


Story: Larry Crowne starts as we meet Larry (Hanks) a hard-working sales man for a supermarket like company that is let go due to him not having a college education, in desperate search for a new purpose, he heads back to college with one of his lecturers being Mercedes Tainot (Roberts) who feels she is under achieving.

After meeting fellow student Talia (Mbatha-Raw), he learns to fit in with the students and helps him find a new purpose as he reinvents himself.


Thoughts on Larry Crowne


Characters – Larry Crowne spent years in the Navy as a chef, he has worked his way up the ranks at a superstore, only to find himself laid off because he doesn’t have a college education. Not finding a new job, he heads back to college where he makes new friends and clashes with the teachers, while finding himself. He doesn’t have a bad bone in his body and just wants to help people. Mercedes Tainot is a teacher that doesn’t feel she is achieving everything she could, she enjoys a drink to cover her failings in life with her marriage going down the toilet, she pushes her students while not always caring. Talia is a student that takes Larry under her wing, helps him join their gang and becomes the friend he needs through his college experience. She is the spark in the movie that keeps everything feeling fresh.

PerformancesTom Hanks takes many roles in this film, director, writer and leading man, he is good in this role, where he can play into the comedy he was once known for, but it is far from the best we know he can do. Julia Roberts is good too, she enjoys playing a less complicated character to the ones we know her for too. For me the star of the movie must be Gugu Mbatha-Raw who steals every scene we see her in with her pure positivity. The rest of the supporting cast are good throughout the film with some names that have gone onto bigger things too.

StoryWhen I look at this story it does show us how one man who loses his job, wife and is left facing no future because of his lack of education, it does play out like an important look at the real world, this side of the story is good, the problems I found with the story include how he goes to college, but we never learn what this is to achieve because on of the courses seems like a made up one too. We get a romantic angle which just doesn’t work and while it does show us about taking change in your life in your stride we do see to lose plot points quickly through the film.

Comedy/RomanceThe comedy in the film does work, it is mostly light hearted which works well. The romance in the film for me is mostly a miss because we do try to play into what could happen between the two, which shouldn’t be around in this story for Larry.

SettingsThe settings in the film take our main character back to college and to locations he wouldn’t have imagined he would have gone, even with they are cliched as they come.

Scene of the Movie –
Larry’s speech.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The subplots just seem to vanish through the story.

Final ThoughtsThis movie does want to give us an important message, but by the end it just falls into the clichés we know too often in rom coms.


Overall: By the book.




ABC Film Challenge – Romance – A – Along for the Ride (2000)

Director: John Kaye

Writer: John Kaye (Screenplay)

Starring: Melanie Griffith, Penelope Ann Miller, Patrick Swayze, Richard Schiff, Annie Corley, Lee Garlington, Michael J Pollard, Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Plot: A schizophrenic romantic tracks down her college sweetheart to help her find their son she gave up for adoption sixteen years ago to the dismay of his new wife.

Tagline – First Love Lasts Forever

Runtime: 1 Hour 39 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Feel Good Movie

Story: Along for the Ride starts when schizophrenic Lulu (Griffith) leaves her home to find her college sweetheart, Ben Clifton (Swayze) who has gone onto become a television screenwriter and married to Claire (Miller) with them both having a happy life together. Lulu comes in search of Ben to drop a bombshell on him, they have a child and that is the reason she left the home to see him on his 16th birthday for the first time.

As Ben reluctantly agrees to go on the trip, Claire is left torn with their own past dealing with the grief the two experienced between the two.

Thoughts on Along for the Ride

Characters – Lulu is the schizophrenic woman that has lived in a home to help her manage her condition, until she decides to leave without any warning, she wants to find Ben to face something from their past, a child she had kept secret for years from everybody else, she has been managing her condition, but her outbursts are clear that she can’t handle being alone in life, with the moment potentially being the biggest challenge of her life. Ben is a screenwriter that is happily married despite having their own tragedy in the family, she is Lulu’s ex from decades before and learns the bombshell they have a kid and must travel across country to meet him with Lulu, putting his career and own marriage on the line. Claire is the wife of Ben who gets even more concerned about him running of with Lulu, she has been dealing their own person problems her own way, which is why she is even more worried about Ben and wants to stop something she thinks is going to happen, happen.

PerformancesMelanie Griffith is great in the role, playing a difficult character and showing both sides of her character’s personality with ease. Patrick Swayze is great too, showing us just how difficult grief can be for people. Penelope Ann Miller as the wife who is concerned about her marriage is everything you want from a character that is feeling distant.

StoryThe story here follows a schizophrenic woman that turns to an ex-lover to travel across country to meet their son, one he never knew they had, putting his own career and marriage on the line to help his former partner. This story does show how much love can last forever, no matter how long you are apart and that a mother will always give everything to show love to their child even if they haven’t been able to spend any time with them. We see how a marriage could be put in a difficult position because of a tragic event that nobody involved could have planned for. We have a mix of a road tip and reconnection and dealing with the past in this story, which is all handled well, with the schizophrenic character showing us just how easily it can be switched on and off without any control.

RomanceThe romance side of the film follows the idea of what once was there and what could have been there more, along with how people move on a fall in love again. We look into more adult relationships rather than the whirlwind that comes from first falling in love.

SettingsThe film does have a road trip setting which sees the characters travelling across America, we don’t go for any big landmarks, which at times doesn’t help understand the scale of the distant being travelled.

Scene of the Movie – The Hustler screening.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Freddie.

Final Thoughts This is an enjoyable road trip movie that has an excellent cast, with strong performances throughout, one to be watch by the fans of the stars.

Overall: Enjoyable throughout.

Burden (2018) Movie Review

Director: Andrew Heckler

Writer: Andrew Heckler (Screenplay)

Starring: Andrea Riseborough, Garrett Hedlund, Forest Whitaker, Tom Wilkinson, Tess Harper, Crystal Fox, Usher Raymond

Plot: When a museum celebrating the Ku Klux Klan opens in a South Carolina town, the idealistic Reverend Kennedy strives to keep the peace even as he urges the group’s Grand Dragon to disavow his racist past.

Tagline – Only love can drive out hate.

Runtime: 1 Hour 57 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Important Message

Story: Burden starts as we head to a small South Carolina town, a place where the Ku Klux Klan has been operating with Tom Griffin (Wilkinson) being the leader of the Klan, the town does have a black Reverend Kennedy (Whitaker) who has been trying to bring change to the mindset of the locals to be equal to everyone, only for his plans to become shattered when Tom opens a museum for the Klan.

When one of the klan members Mike Burden (Hedlund) starts dating local woman Judy (Riseborough), he finds him allegiance to the klan being questioned, with the tension between both sides rising in the town.

Thoughts on Burden

Characters – Mike Burden is a member of the KKK, he is involved in opening the museum, which does build up the tension between the groups in the town, he starts to date a local woman, which sees him needing to refocus and see the mistakes in his past, turning to a black reverend for help to live a better life, even though the KKK start to turn on him. Jude is the local mother that works in the local store to make sure her child gets food, she doesn’t get involved in the problems in the town, she will always treat everyone equal, which sees her wonder if Mike can change. Reverend Kennedy is the black man that is trying to bring equality to the town, he has been against the KKK actions for years and is left needing to overcome a new problem, while being willing to offer former members a chance to redeem themselves. Tom Griffin is the leader of the KKK chapter in the town, he lets and encourages the members to target black people for violence, looking to start up his own war in the town

PerformancesWe do have a strong cast with Forest Whitaker being the star of the cast, he brings us the character with the biggest struggle to go through, while Garrett Hedlund brings to life the redemption arc character. Andrea Riseborough does well in the supporting role, while Tom Wilkinson makes us hate his character with ease.

StoryThe story here follows a member of the KKK that learns the errors of his way and looks to correct his mistakes, even if it means he is left with nothing, with the only person that will help him, being a black reverend that he was once assigned to murder. This is based on the real person that went for a redemption, which is all fair enough to see somebody better themselves, only we don’t get into enough of the war between the two sides in the town, it almost seems like the more important part of the story only it ends up being on the backburner through the film. We do have the world created well, showing how everyone involved is struggling with everyday life and needs help, which is why they have created the groups we see both sides involved in.

SettingsThe film uses the settings to show us that both sides are struggling to make ends meet, they are all on the poverty line.

Scene of the Movie – The redemption.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Not enough focus on the bigger issues going on here.

Final Thoughts This is a strong redemption storyline, only it fails to show the true battle between the KKK and the black members of the town who are always being the victims of their actions.

Overall: Redemption 101.

Signature Entertainment presents Burden on DVD & Digital HD from July 6th