Mum’s List (2016)

Director: Niall Johnson

Writer: St John Greene (Screenplay)

Starring: Rafe Spall, Emilia Fox, Elaine Cassidy, William Stagg, Matthew Stagg, Richard Cordery


Plot: A dying mother’s life lessons to the husband and sons she left behind. Based on the best-selling novel by St John (Singe) Greene, the film is the story of Singe and Kate, a couple from North Somerset, whose lives were turned upside down when Kate was diagnosed with an incurable breast cancer. Over her last few days, she created her list: writing her thoughts and memories down, to help the man she loved create the best life possible for their two sons, after she was gone.

Tagline – One of the most memorable, uplifting and beautiful stories of recent years, Mum’s List is a romance for all ages.

Runtime: 1 Hour 41 Minutes


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Emotional Shattering


Story: Mum’s List starts with Singe (Spall) trying to continue his life with his boys Reef (William Stagg) and Finn (Matthew Stagg) after the death of his wife, their mother. We flashback to when Kate (Fox) first discovered a lump and how her treatment started with less to worry about with a high percentage of survival.

We follow Singe as he remembers when he first fell in love with Kate, how the treatment didn’t go as planned and how she left Singe a list to follow on life lessons for the boys, Singe and loved ones.


Thoughts on Mum’s List


Characters – Singe is the man re-living the moments, he has lost his wife, but must stay strong for their children, seeing how he experiences the grief is the difficult part, he has moments with friends where he can let it all out, both through the treatment and after the death. he remembers meeting her and how they fell in love to focus on how to be the father the children need. Kate is the wife and mother that is stricken with cancer, she does remain positive through the first bout knowing she can beat it like her son did, but when it turns worse she must battle an unwinnable fight, deciding to leave Singe a list of what she wants from her husband when raising their boys. Rachel is the close friend to the couple, Kate’s best friend and the one that will be there for Singe to help with any parenting issues he might have.

PerformancesRafe Spall in the leading role is wonderful, he must go through a range of emotions where he shows his ability to handle each and every one of those. Emilia Fox shows us the different levels of her treatment as we do believe the suffering she is going through while remaining strong. The rest of the cast prove to be the supporting characters the family need through the film.

StoryThe story here is based on the true story as told by the Singe character from his book, this does make certain moments feel like captures of real family moments through the struggles, adding a personal touch to the story telling process. We do jump around the timeline a lot which can get difficult to keep up with as even if the transitions feel smooth. The idea is a reality that people do face everyday (with one item on the list being one that I have seen someone go through) as the rawness of this comes through strong.

SettingsThe film keeps everything in everyday settings, the locations these characters would have been too and had a memory from being the important ones for the characters.

Scene of the Movie –
The list speech.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The time jumps are too often.

Final ThoughtsThis is an emotionally powerful film that does tell the heart breaking story of losing someone to cancer, when husband must remain strong in the eyes of his children and how she helps from beyond the gave with a list of instructions.


Overall: Emotionally moving movie.





Dorian Gray (2009)

Director: Oliver Parker

Writer: Toby Finlay (Screenplay) Oscar Wilde (Novel)

Starring: Ben Barnes, Colin Firth, Rebecca Hall, Ben Chaplin, Fiona Shaw, Emilia Fox


Plot: A corrupt young man somehow keeps his youthful beauty eternally, but a special painting gradually reveals his inner ugliness to all.

Tagline – Forever Young. Forever Cursed.

Runtime: 1 Hour 52 Minutes


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Lacklustre


Story: Dorian Gray starts as Dorian Gray (Barnes) himself arrives in CGI London, I mean London around the 1800s to return to his childhood home. Dorian gets to mingle with the high society members including Lord Henry Wotton (Firth) as he learns his place in London.

Henry takes Dorian under his wing and with a portrayed showing his youthful looks offering him the desire to remain that way we see the world Dorian has been guided into by Henry. Dorian becoming his own man uses the painting to keep his aging while he remains young and becomes the womanising machine around town, but there is always a consequence to this.


Thoughts on Dorian Gray


Characters – Dorian Gray is the young man bought back into London, he starts full of innocence but after being guided down certain paths he changes becoming a man that has his youth preserved in a painting that has swapped with his physical body. Lord Henry Wotton is the high society man that takes Dorian down the darker paths, first for his own entertainment but soon fuelling his own jealously.

PerformancesBen Barnes is good as Dorian Gray the forever youthful looking and enjoying life forever. Colin Firth is the gentleman figure here being the mentor and easily being the highlight of the film.

StoryThe Dorian Gray story is a well-known story of the man that never ages while his painting showed the age and harm his body has taken as it slowly starts to consume him. The origin of this does lack the fantasy you would imagine it having and does just feel like a simple look at how high society believed they controlled London. While the story may well follow the original material well it does need some evolution to make the story compelling to the modern audience.

Fantasy/ThrillerThis should be a fantasy filled moment film but we lack anything past the concept of what is happening to Dorian.

SettingsThe settings are old London which look completely fake through the whole sucking us out of the location for the most part.

Special EffectsThe effects are a let-down in the most part disappointing on nearly every occasion through the film.

Scene of the Movie –
The Deal.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Lacks the final punch.

Final ThoughtsThis should be one of the greatest gothic stories you will ever see, but it lacks all the effects, twists and storytelling to make it.


Overall: Disappointing all around.




The Pianist (2002)

rob challengeThis week Rob challenged me to this Oscar winning film.

logoDirector: Roman Polanski

Writer: Ronald Harwood (Screenplay) Wladyslaw Szpilman (Book)

Starring: Adrien Brody, Emilia Fox, Michal Zebrowski, Ed Stoppard, Maureen Lipman, Frank Finlay, Jessica Kate Meyer, Julia Rayner, Thomas Kretschmann

Plot: A Polish Jewish musician struggles to survive the destruction of the Warsaw ghetto of World War II.

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

Verdict: Brilliant Drama With Shocking Truth

Story: The Pianist starts Warsaw 1939 we see pianist Wladyslaw Szpilman (Brody) playing piano as the bombs hit the town, his family is planning on running and Wladyslaw refuses to go as war officially starts with Britain and France joining in with Poland. With the German’s taking over Warsaw Wladyslaw finds his Jewish beliefs being band across the city as his new romance with Dorota (Fox).

The German’s continue to take over Warsaw as the Wladyslaw family is relocated and offered a chance to have his time suffering reduced. We see how the Jews are being treated and how they want to stand up for themselves. When Wladyslaw get saved by an old friend his family is left to be sent to the chambers leaving Wladyslaw to wonder the ghetto alone going past bodies abandoned on the floor.

Wladyslaw continues to work as a labourer while the German continue to execute the members of the community and somehow Wladyslaw isn’t getting picked but loses his recently made friends. We see how he survivors the whole war with help from different people including a music loving German Captain Wilm Hosenfeld (Kretschmann).

The Pianist is one of the most difficult movies to watch because it shows the reality of one of the worst times in human history. We all know the suffering that was put on people during the war which puts all of us in a shocked mood. This does follow only one man’s fight to survive even though he loses everyone he cares about. I think this is perfectly told mixture the desperate side of the story with the pure brutality of what was going around him. (10/10)

Actor Review

Adrien Brody: Wladyslaw Szpilman is the man behind the story, he is a respected Jewish pianist that gets trapped with his family in Poland at first before being separated from them. We watch how he made it through the war in hiding having help from a range of different people along the way. Adrien gives an Oscar winner performance that he fully deserved. (10/10)wladyslow

Support Cast: The Pianist has a massive supporting cast that shows how many people were involved in the survival of Wladyslaw, most of which didn’t make it.

Director Review: Roman PolanskiRoman gives us a brilliant film that should be seen by everyone. (9/10)

Biographical: The Pianist tells the amazing story of Wladyslaw survival. (10/10)

War: The Pianist shows the reality of the war without going into the battles scenes. (10/10)

Settings: The Pianist creates a brilliant setting that makes you feel like you are in the time period. (10/10)

Suggestion: The Pianist is one that everyone should watch by everyone once. It may well be difficult by once viewing is important. (Watch)

Best Part: Shocking reality of the survival.

Worst Part: Difficult to watch.

Believability: Based on the real events. (10/10)

Chances of Tears: No (0/10)

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No

Oscar Chances: Won 3 Oscars, Best Actor, Best Director also nominated for another 4 Oscars

Box Office: $32.5 Million

Budget: $35 Million

Runtime: 2 Hour 30 Minutes

Tagline: Music was his passion. Survival was his masterpiece.

Overall: Shocking but important film that shows just how hard surviving would have been.

Rating 95