Sparkle, The Virgin Soldiers, Holy Motors: films on TV today

Lesley Manville and son seek their fortune in London, Hywel Bennett is in the army now, and technology is on the march: the Radio Times team’s pick of free-to-air films on TV today


Sparkle ★★★★
11.50pm-1.30am BBC1 


Saddled with an oddly random title that gives off unhelpful signals of pizzazz, this is a British romantic comedy that snuck out a few years back. Its moderate touch of showbiz comes via Mike Leigh favourite Lesley Manville, who plays the wannabe torch singer mum of Shaun Evans (the young Morse in Endeavour). The pair of them fetch up in London to seek their respective fortunes. He gets a job in PR after sleeping with the boss, a fiery Stockard Channing, but finds himself drawn to the rather-more-his-age Amanda Ryan (you may remember her from Shameless). As written and directed by Tom Hunsinger and Neil Hunter (the superb Lawless Heart) — with an apparent improvisational nod to Leigh in their style of working — Sparkle is a fairly standard plot brought to life by enjoyable performances along with some great wisecracks and lively one-liners. As well as Channing, for ballast we also get Bob Hoskins as the bloke next door who takes a shine to Manville. There’s your sparkle.

Krull ★★★
4.15-6.40pm Movie Mix 

A prince (Ken Marshall) sets out to free a princess (Lysette Anthony) from a fearsome beasty in this enjoyable fantasy adventure. The effects are probably showing their age a bit, but it’s a decent yarn – and Lysette’s hair screams 80s despite the action taking place on “distant planet”.

Mona Lisa Smile ★★★
6.35-9.00pm Film Four 

Julia Roberts stars as teacher who shakes things up at a stuffy girls school in this period drama by encouraging the pupils to think for themselves – heaven forbid.

The Virgin Soldiers ★★★
9.00-10.55pm Movies4Men 

Author Leslie Thomas turned his National Service experience into a bestselling novel that spawned this saucy comedy starring Hywell Bennett. A character with the glorious name of Juicy Lucy should give you some idea of how the boys find comfort from the stress of conflict.

Holy Motors ★★★
PREMIERE  11.50pm-2.10am Film Four

Don’t expect multiplex fare from maverick French director Leos Carax. This odd (and explicit) flight of fancy about the day in the life of a mysterious master of disguise is sure to divide its audience. Mind you, Kylie Minogue does pop up as a singing air stewardess.


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