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Film star brought back in a modern classic

It is often said that they don’t make films like they used to – and while in the case of the Police Academy films this is a good thing, sometimes you yearn for a simple, classic movie.

One that both makes you think and moves you to tears, but without being OTT, loud, brash, gawdy or having a score that twats you about the bonce.

A simple story, told simply, is sometimes a joy to behold.

Such is the case with Film Stars Don’t Die In Liverpool.

Based on Peter Turner’s memoir, Film Stars focuses on the last years of Hollywood legend Gloria Grahame – famed femme fatale and Oscar winner who’s career has taken a bit of a slide with her health not far behind.

Towards the end of her life she met Turner, leading to a whirlwind romance that criss-crossed the Atlantic.

Taking centre stage and frankly stealing the show is Annette Bening, bringing to the screen arguably the first Oscar worthy performance of the season.

Mixing fight and fragility, Bening is simply sublime – making the audience fall in love with her as Grahame’s fans did back in her heyday.

Keeping pace with her is the wonderful Jamie Bell as Turner.

His is a perfectly balanced, measured performance, allowing Grahame’s tale to be told even though he is the one telling it.

As for the assembled supporting cast, no one puts a foot wrong.

Yes the names Julie Walters and Vanessa Redgrave will grab attention, but their co-stars also shine when called upon.

But it’s not just the performances that keep you entranced here.

Director Paul McGuigan, of Lucky Number Slevin fame, not only captures Liverpool on the late ’70s and early ’80s, but manages to weave the flashbacks into the narrative with deft flair.

This is no gritty, kitchen-sink drama, however.

This is unashamedly smooshy, romantic, warm, sweet, funny, charming…

I could go on, but you should be getting the idea.

Sure there are a few mis-steps along the way – it lags a tad in the final third and I have no idea why we had to have scenes from Alien – but these are but minor niggles.

The love with which this film was so clearly made – and the performances of the entire cast – soon make you forget you ever dwelt on such matters.

As Oscar season comes charging over the hill, many similar films will be thrust upon us.

But, for our money, there won’t be many better.

You’ll come out from watching this feeling warm of fuzzy and damp of eye, and the festive nonsense doesn’t get so much as a mention.

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Unsalted Popcorn
A fresh approach to film reviews - no spoilers, just honest and heartfelt opinions.

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