BARRY NORMAN: FILM OF THE DAY The Shawshank Redemption★★★★★ 10.40pm-1.15am ITV
Many people think this is the best film ever. No, it’s not. Tim Robbins is a banker falsely convicted of the murder of his wife and her lover and sent to Shawshank prison. There he is beaten and sexually abused until he starts laundering money for the guards and the warden. His closest friend is lifer Morgan Freeman and his prized possession a huge poster of Rita Hayworth in his cell. Very significant this as it turns out. Director Frank Darabont’s debut feature, based on Stephen King’s novel, provides both a vivid picture of the horror of incarceration and a testament to the human spirit. The performances are excellent and it is indeed a very good film but not quite a great one.
An attractive cast that includes Alan Rickman, Emma Thompson, Hugh Grant, Liam Neeson and Keira Knightley bring to life Richard Curtis’s nine tales on the theme of love. For the sweet-toothed and romantic die-hards.
Sylvester Stallone comes out of the shadows of all his action-man fodder with this clever, gripping and emotional police drama. Stallone is magnificent as the easy-going small-town sheriff, rather in awe of his fellow officers but forced to confront their corruption and his own inaction. What’s more impressive is that Stallone’s performance is not overpowered by the strong displays from a cast that includes Robert De Niro, Harvey Keitel and Ray Liotta.
Tom Hardy cuts a mean-and-moody figure here, playing a former marine who faces his estranged brother, Joel Edgerton, in the mixed martial arts arena. Hardy can convert broodiness to violence in the twinkling of an eye and director Gavin O’Connor gives enough of the brothers’ backstory for it to make sense. And central to that story is Nick Nolte as their father, whose performance earned him an Oscar nomination for best supporting actor.
The visuals are the real star of commercials director Rupert Sanders’s supercharged fairy-tale revamp. Kristen Stewart looks a little overpowered by her surroundings as Snow White, though her scenes with Chris Hemsworth produce a feisty chemistry. But it’s left to Charlize Theron’s evil queen to challenge the effects of this gloomily beautiful movie. Just don’t ask about the magic mirror.