Margate, England, 1980. As widespread unemployment and a rising wave of extremism plunge the seaside town and Margaret Thatcher's Britain into recession, depressed Hilary (Colman) sticks to her daily routine as the dutiful front-of-house manager at the Empire: a dying, golden-era movie palace. But movies can't keep lonely Hilary’s inner demons at bay. And then, bright-eyed new employee Stephen (Ward) suddenly enters
the picture, shaking Hilary's troubled existence. If the celluloid-scented power of cinema can pave the way for meaningful human connection, is there still hope for the once majestic movie theatre?
WHY BOOK THIS FILM? Who doesn’t love Olivia Colman?
“Empire of Light is a sweet, heartfelt, humane movie, which doesn’t shy away from the brutality and the racism that was happening in the streets outside the cinema: the Empire is showing Stir Crazy starring Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder, directed by Sidney Poitier – a message of diversity, if 1981 Britain cared to listen. It’s clearly a labour of love for Sam Mendes: love requited.” The Guardian “At its best, it is genuinely evocative, and while the script (by Mendes, his first as solo screenwriter) is patchy, it also wisely leaves the camera — plus Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross’ delicate, pensive score — to do a lot of the talking.” Empire
Renowned conductor/composer Lydia Tár (Cate Blanchett), the first female principal music director of the Berlin Philharmonic, is at the top of her game. As a conductor, Lydia not only orchestrates, she manipulates. As a trailblazer, she leads the way in the male-dominated classical music industry. As she prepares for the release of her memoir while juggling work and family, she is also willing to take up one of her most significant challenges: a live recording of Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 5. But her carefully constructed façade is about to crumble, revealing dirty secrets and the insidious, corrosive nature of power.
WHY BOOK THIS FILM? Cate Blanchett won a BAFTA for best leading actress.
“But what is most impressive about Blanchett is not the fortissimo moments of a totally uncompromising, self-possessed artist; it’s in the perfectly modulated performance that never judges or cajoles us to warm to Lydia but always commands our respect. She etches a woman fracturing under pressure in the tiniest increments. Frankly, it’s a thrill and a privilege to watch.” Empire
“One of the most grippingly brilliant films of the year.” Sight & Sound