Empire of Light (2022) Movie Review

Empire of Light – Movie Review

Empire of Light

Director: Sam Mendes

Writer: Sam Mendes (Screenplay)


Plot: A drama about the power of human connection during turbulent times, set in an English coastal town in the early 1980s.

Runtime: 1 Hour 55 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Story: Empire of Light starts as we meet Hilary (Colman) the duty manager of a small seaside cinema. She keeps to herself while being involved in a secret affair with the owner Donald Ellis (Firth). Hilary lives a quiet life away from the cinema until a young man Stephen (Ward) comes to work there.

The two strike up an unlikely friendship as the cinema is preparing for a potential big premiere. This leads to a relationship that neither is prepared for, as Stephen must learn what has held Hilary back in her life for so many years.

Verdict on Empire of Light


Hilary is the duty manager at the cinema, she has had problems in her life. She keeps a low profile outside of work, keeping to herself. At work, she finds herself making sure things run smoothly while being trapped in helping the owner with his needs. It becomes clear that something else is wrong with Hilary and her routine is what is keeping her problems down in her day.

Stephen is a young man that comes to work at the cinema. He gets shown the ropes by Hilary and looks to learn from her experience. Stephen gets uses his own experiences of being treated differently to understand the problems Hilary is going through. This job is to help his own dream to go away to university to give himself a brighter future.

In the supporting cast, we get the sleazy manager of the cinema that takes advantage of Hilary. As well as the rest of the employees around the cinema. Each one has their own story, as we get to see how everyday life in the cinema operates.


Olivia Colman gives us a wonderful performance as a middle-aged woman struggling through life. She brings her full range of emotions that are needed for her character. Michael Ward is brilliant in the movie too, the newcomer comes into the movie and stands tall opposite Olivia Colman. The supporting cast is strong too, even if the movie does feel like wastes Colin Firth with such a small role.


The story follows a cinema employee as they live a quiet life that starts to spiral out of control. It follows her through her own problems in life, as she makes new connections along the way. This sees her need to learn to cope with her problems while helping a young man prepare for life.

The story here is a nice one at showing how important connections in life are. It puts a firm focus on the idea that you never really get to know somebody until speak to them. This story focuses on helping people get the most out of their lives, no matter what their age is and how much of life they have been through. There are a few social subjects discussed outside of the main story, but they don’t seem to get enough focus going forward.

Final Thoughts Empire of Light is an interesting story about the lives we touch.

Leave a Reply