Jessica Chastain Weekend – The Debt (2010)

Director: John Madden

Writer: Matthew Vaughn, Jane Goldman, Peter Straughan (Screenplay) Assaf Bernstein, Ido Rosenblum (Original Screenplay)

Starring: Helen Mirren, Tom Wilkinson, Ciaran Hinds, Jessica Chastain, Marton Csokas, Sam Worthington


Plot: In 1965, three Mossad agents cross into East Berlin to apprehend a notorious Nazi war criminal. Thirty years later, the secrets the agents share come back to haunt them.


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Strong Thriller


Story: The Debt starts in 1997 where Rachel Singer (Mirren), David Peretz (Hings) and Stephan Gold (Wilkinson) are about to have their life story about their time in the intelligence agency thirty years early helped take down a Nazi war criminal, but this event brings us David’s suicide.

We flashback to thirty years earlier where the younger version of the characters Rachel (Chastain), Stephan (Csokas) and David (Worthington) learn how they first meet and start to work together to take down the war criminal, but why is that effecting their lives in the modern day, well only time will tell.


Thoughts on The Debt


Characters – First we will look at the present-day versions of the characters, Rachel is now a grandmother and proud reason for her daughter’s book, Stephan is wheelchair bound that still on the job while David isn’t sure whether to trust Stephan anymore killing himself over just meeting with him.

In the past, we have junior agent Rachel that must first join her partners in the mission but learn about how the field works when it comes to taking on a war criminal. Stephan is the leader of the group, he pulls the strings in the mission as well as warning Rachel of any mistakes she makes. David is the quiet member of the group, he has taken things to a personal level and isn’t willing to let anyone into his life.

PerformanceWe have six great actors here, we have the two different generations which show us just how talented the newer generation are with Chastain, Huntington and Csokas compared to Mirren, Wilkinson and Hinds, they all give great performances throughout.

StoryThe story mixes the two times about the story, first we learn what is on the record about what happened in the 1960’s story, but then we learn the truth about the what happened. When you look at any secret mission going on we get to see how secretive it needed to be when being told about what really happened. We also see how things could be made to be true to cover up a mistake and how they will need to be fixed if things come to light.

ThrillerThis does keep us on the edge of our seat as we wait to see what happened to make this a difficult situation for the elder characters.

SettingsWe have the different times for each setting which shows us the different worlds our characters faced the same problem.

Scene of the Movie – The truth.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The love triangle does feel forced.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good thriller that does keep us on edge through the film, we are left to guess just where it will all go and what was the truth from the past.


Overall: Good intense thriller but lacking the final punch





Shakespeare in Love (1998)

shakeDirector: John Madden

Writer: Marc Norman, Tom Stoppard (Screenplay)

Starring: Joseph Fiennes, Gwyneth Paltrow, Geoffrey Rush, Tom Wilkinson, Judi Dench, Colin Firth, Ben Affleck


Plot: A young Shakespeare, out of ideas and short of cash, meets his ideal woman and is inspired to write one of his most famous plays.


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Oscar Heavy Classic


Story: Shakespeare in Love starts as Philip Henslowe (Rush) has been struggling to pay his debts to Hugh Fennyman (Wilkinson) and with his star scripter William Shakespeare (Fiennes) working on the latest play for the theatre which can clean his debts.

Shakespeare looking for his latest muse sees just how Queen Elizabeth (Dench) sees his work where we get to meet Viola De Lesseps (Paltrow) a wealthy daughter of London who dreams of being in a Shakespeare play. When William meets Viola the motivation behind Romeo and Juliet is born and with Viola is undercover as the lead actor of the play but is also being forced into marrying Lord Wessex (Firth) by Queen’s order. With the love between William and Viola being kept a secret one of the most iconic plays in history becomes the reality in the famous Rose theatre.


Thoughts on Shakespeare in Love


StoryThe story here plays along the lines of seeing how love can inspire the best work from playwrights as we see the struggling Shakespeare re-discover his best work once he falls in love once again. The parallels to what is going on with the play and everyday situation all comes together very well as we see how the final pieces of the puzzle comes together. This does have a full stage feel to everything going on which could easily be a turn off for some people though.

Comedy/Drama/RomanceWe have good theatre based comedy without being a joke a minute throughout this film, the film really does focus on the romantic angle between William, Viola and the problems she must face with arranged marriage to Lord Wessex.

Characters/PerformanceThe characters are all loosely based on real people that also become the characters within the Romeo and Juliet story that we have all come to know. The performances are all brilliant here showing us that if we want a stage play movie we can turn to these actors for first choice.

SettingsEach setting fits the time period perfectly as we would all be willing to believe we are in the middle of 1593 watching the creation Romeo and Juliet.

Final ThoughtsThis is a film that not everyone will but is easily one of the most fascinating ones around as we learn the creation of one of the greatest plays ever written.


Overall: Classic in its own right.




Proof (2005)

logoDirector: John Madden

Writer: David Auburn, Rebecca Miller (Screenplay) David Auburn (Play)

Starring: Gwyneth Paltrow, Anthony Hopkins, Jake Gyllenhaal, Gary Houston,, Hope Davis


Plot: The daughter Catherine (Paltrow) of a brilliant but mentally disturbed mathematician Robert (Hopkins) tries to come to grips with her possible inheritance: his insanity. Complicating matters are one of her father’s ex-student Hal (Gyllenhaal) who wants to search through his papers and her estranged sister who shows up to help settle his affairs.


Verdict: It is all about the proof


Story: On paper this should make a very interesting drama, but unfortunately this comes off very boring. We gets lots of talking about maths theory that no common person will have an idea what is going on, mixing that all together with whether somebody is sane or not. Granted this is taken from a play but we focus too much on the sanity and not enough on what she might be crazy about. (5/10)


Actor Reviews


Gwyneth Paltrow: Catherine the daughter of Robert who may well be just as much of a genius as him. Gives an ok performance but this really won’t be one many will remember. (6/10)


Anthony Hopkins: Robert genius maths professor, who recently passed away, fills in during flashbacks and vision with his daughter. Poor performance from Hopkins, who really should be giving better performances. (4/10)


Jake Gyllenhaal: Hal the student of Robert’s who wants to prove his work was really brilliant, but gets more than he expected when his daughter could be the one with the brilliant theory. Average performance from Jake, who can do much better. (5/10)


Hope Davis: Claire the out of town sister who wants to take Catherine back to New York with her and sell the house. Good performance playing the relative you are not mean to like. (6/10)


Director Review: John Madden – After the success of A Beautiful Mind we thought a film about maths theory might be interesting, but this director fails to give it that. (5/10)


Mystery: Leaves you to guess throughout whether the father or daughter created the theory. (4/10)

Settings: Most of the film is set in the family house showing that the connection could have made them closer as well as tearing them apart. (7/10)

Suggestion: Unless you are really into your maths theory then you should just be avoiding this. (Avoid)


Best Part: The idea

Worst Part: The way the idea is made.

Believability: We do have people that are this brilliant but close to insanity. (4/10)

Chances of Tears: No (0/10)

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No


Awards: Nominated for a Golden Globe

Oscar Chances: No

Box Office: $14,189,860

Budget: $20 Million

Runtime: 1 Hour 39 Minutes

Tagline: If you don’t believe in yourself, who will believe in you?

Trivia:Paltrow reprises the role of Catherine that she had played on stage in London’s West End.


Overall: As Boring As Maths In School

Rating 40

Killshot (2008)

logoDirector: John Madden

Writer: Hossein Amini (Screenplay) Elmore Leonard (Novel)

Starring: Thomas Jane, Diane Lane, Mickey Rourke, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Rosario Dawson, Hal Holbrook


Plot: When psychopathic criminal Richie Nix (Gordon-Levitt) tries to rob a real estate agency his plan goes wrong. Working with ageing hit man Armand ‘Blackbird’ (Rourke) they have to clean up loose ends. Wayne (Jane), Carmen (Lane) Colson a divorcing couple get taken into Federal Witness Protection program, but the killers won’t stop until they finish tying up all the loose ends.


Verdict: A good crime thriller

Story: With crime based films you need to have a villainous character that you will remember as it will be what they do to drive the good guys. Having the breaking relationship between the married couple adds interests to the story. While the weird older brother relationship between Richie and Blackbird all this adds up to make a thriller where you just don’t know what will happen next. (8/10)


Actor Review: Thomas Jane – Wayne down on his luck with job hunting and his marriage has to fight back to save his wife. Good performance but really doesn’t get enough action for what he is capable off. (6/10)


Actor Review: Diane Lane – Carmen real estate worker and recently separated lady who becomes a target after seeing Blackbird’s face. Good woman in distress performance. (7/10)


Actor Review: Mickey Rourke – Blackbird a quiet hit man for a mob but just wants to escape the business. Take the young man under his wing to try and teach him how to improve. Good leading performance that seems to get overlooked. (8/10)


Actor Review: Joseph Gordon-Levitt – Richie Nix the psychopathic killer criminal who seems to get pleasure out of committing his crimes. Good performance that really shines and improves the image of the character Blackbird. (9/10)


Director Review: John Madden – Good direction from the Oscar nominated director. (8/10)


Crime: Good crime throughout and giving us the ability to not know what will happen during the crimes. (8/10)

Thriller: Thrilling throughout. (8/10)

Believability: Hit men would go to extremes to cover up their tracks. (2/10)

Chances of Tears: no (0/10)

Settings: A few good setting but not many that are important to the story. (7/10)

Suggestion: I think crime fans will enjoy this but not many casual film fans will. (Try It)


Best Part: A sudden death

Worst Part: Bit slow

Action Scene Of The Film: The real estate robbery.

Kill Of The Film: Richie Nix

Oscar Chances: No

Chances of Sequel: No


Overall: A smart slow moving thriller

Rating 70