A classic fairytale is told in the old-fashioned way by director Kenneth Branagh and it’s a breath of fresh air. Lily James stars as the girl who goes from rags to riches, swishing about in the appropriate fashion, despite some controversy over her teeny-tiny waist. Apparently, she could only eat soup on the set – which seems apt for an orphan with a wicked step mum.
If you thought life in fairytale England was hard, this depiction of Stalin-era Russia will chill you to the bone. Tom Hardy is, as usual, deeply intense as an MGB agent investigating a series of child murders. Gary Oldman’s in it, too, and even if it isn’t quite as brilliant as we hoped it would be, you can’t go far wrong with this kind of casting (accents notwithstanding).
That old cliché about lonely women and gardeners is given a period twist by Alan Rickman, in the director’s chair. He also plays King Louis XIV who appoints Matthias Schoenaerts to tart up the grounds at the Palace of Versailles with the help of a green-fingered Kate Winslet. They get very dirty, naturellement, but don’t worry: it’s all very tastefully done.
If you’re up for something completely different, this British film set at a girls’ boarding school in 1969 delivers it. The death of a star pupil is the spark for a fainting epidemic among her classmates that could be ghostly possession, or an extreme case of peer pressure. Or… are they simply trying to get out of PE lessons? Hmm.