Sometimes when you go to see as many films as I do they can become a bit of a blur..."Humpday" slips into "Cemetery Junction", one Ozu film can become totally indistinguishable from another no matter how beautiful they are. It can also be a bit tiring...remember, dear reader, that I am not being paid to review these films, this isn't my "job"; I have another full time job that I have to fit the films around. I'm doing this because I love films but it can be difficult to maintain interest and enthusiasm.
Then you see something like "Lion's Den" and you remember why you go to the cinema.
Make no mistake this was a film that was worth the time and worth the money.
Big themes, big performances, beautiful cinematography, believable characters, a strong, honest script, direction worth the name...no car chases, no explosions, no tricks and flicks, no special effects.
We need films like this.
While we all need a film like "The Hangover" on a Friday night after a bad week, we all get a kick out of big budget sci-fi and action movies, we all have guilty pleasures like "Music and Lyrics" (that's a personal issue) but for cinema to be a "serious" art form it needs something like "Lion's Den".
Julia wakes up to discover blood on her hands, she showers and heads off to University. On returning home she finds the lifeless bodies, bloodied and beaten, lying on the floor of her flat. One of the bodies is dead and the other barely alive. From this point on we follow Julia as she enters a female prison where we learn that she is pregnant. Her life inside prison with her child is presented to us in a very intimate, almost documentary style, and before long we forget that she is a possible murderer and our only concerns are for her welfare and the welfare of her child.
This was a beautifully observed, poignant and genuinely dramatic film. The performance of Martina Gusman is one that should be talked about by film critics but it won't be. Too many of them are still trying to convince themselves and you that Carey Mulligan is an actress as opposed to a posh girl playing at make believe. Honestly, Gusman is simply magnificent in this film. She presents us not with a character but with a person. I never doubted for a second that Julia was real, that she was accused of murder, that she was a mother...she just existed for the duration of the film and, even now, long after it's conclusion she is real to me.
What it means to be a woman.
How society treats women.
Real issues, universal themes.
A real, honest and grimly beautiful film that serves as the perfect antidote to so many of what clutters up the multiplexes.
Find it, watch it and love it.