Third film around the cinema in a month, after “Babylon” and “The Fabelmans”, “Empire of Light” sees things from the side of dark rooms, when they were still temples.
Childhood has a lot to do with cinema. Often discovered young, it was a “electric train for adults“, according to Orson Welles. In Empire of Lightreleased Wednesday, March 1, Sam Mendes (Sky Fall, 1917) remembers his 80s, his local cinema as a social place, the sunshine he provided in Margaret Thatcher’s Britain and the Ska we listened to on the radio.
Right arm of the director of L’Empire, a cinema in an English seaside resort, Hillary finds her job after a depression. As a cashier, she discovers a new employee, Stephen, who only thinks of leaving town because of the racist pressure he is under. She, single in search of stability, and dreaming of better days, finds in movies, music and their loved ones, a loving family.
First screenplay of which he is the sole author, Empire of Light is nourished by the personal memories of Sam Mendes. Surprising to observe this throwback to cinema from Damien Chazelle, Steven Spielberg, today from Sam Mendes, and next week from François Ozon. Nostalgia is part of cinema, and filmmakers have always liked to entrust their love of the 7th art in their films. The most popular show, it is also intimate through the memories associated with it.
English seaside towns inspire a feeling of strangeness, a surrealism where summer and winter mingle in an iodized autumn. Brighton would be the capital and L’Empire the cinema. In the ambient torpor and a tense British socio-political context between the end of the 70s and the beginning of the following decade, cinema was undoubtedly a saving escape. Sam Mendes evokes it through the links that bring Hillary and Stephen together, two solitudes that will stay the course thanks to the cultural link that unites them in the cinema and the music they share.
The architecture of L’Empire and the city offer atmospheres reminiscent of Edward Hopper in painting, in the frames and lights that give a 1950s side to the eighties of the film. It’s Hollywood glamor that would meet the Sex Pistols and the Specials. Sam Mendes wrote his film for Olivia Colman after seeing her in The Crown. We discover her between Audrey Hepburn and Hanna Schygulla, a mixture of ingenue and woman of experience. Touching mood film, Empire of Light bewitches in its atmospheres and its characters, with the tact of a confidant Sam Mendes always fair. A gem.
Gender : Drama
Director: Sam Mendes
Actors: Olivia Colman, Micheal Ward, Tom Brooke, Colin Firth, Toby Jones, Tanya Moodie, Hannah Onslow, Crystal Clarke
Country : Great Britain / United States
Duration : 1h59
Exit : 1st of March 2023
Distributer : The Walt Disney Company France