Showing posts with label sam claflin. Show all posts
Showing posts with label sam claflin. Show all posts

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Stars I Love: Sam Claflin

Sam Claflin Glamour UK photographer Matt Holyoak
Glamour UK / Matt Holyoak
Many male stars starting out in Hollywood are known for their pretty faces and washboard abs. That's actually how Australian native Sam Claflin spent his early days in some of the biggest franchises like a lovestruck rebel in Pirates of the Caribbean and Snow White's childhood friend William in Snow White and the Huntsman. In 2013, he hit the jackpot as Finnick Odair in The Hunger Games, which is one of my favorite book characters, and it's been fascinating to see his career grow over the past five years.

One of my favorite qualities about Claflin is that I never know where he is going to turn up next and I always forget what I've seen him in before - in a good way. He surprises me by the amount of different roles he's taken on in only seven years. His characters are never quite the same, nor is he particularly attached to one genre or another. (And like another one of my favorites Chris Pine, Claflin often works with female directors and his characters support heroines to do their own thing....) In a celebration of his birthday, here are my five favorite roles of his so far. What are your favorite Sam Claflin movies? Feel free to share in the comments below!

Thursday, October 26, 2017

My Cousin Rachel (2017) is the Victorian-horror-romance we need

My Cousin Rachel 2017 Movie Review
Fox Searchlight Pictures
Based on the novel by Daphne DuMaurier, director Roger Michell creates a spellbinding Gothic horror that fits our every period-drama need. In the beginning, the story seems like an open-and-close of murder, but languidly turns into a tale between an unreliable narrator and a Victorian femme-fatale.

Observing from afar, a young man Phillip (Sam Claflin) becomes suspicious about the torrid affair between his cousin Ambrose and companion Rachel (Rachel Weisz). When his revered fatherly figure dies rather quickly and under mysterious circumstances, Phillip declares justice for his loss but instead finds himself down a path Ambrose took: falling under her spell.

So rarely does a Gothic horror movie plant a very simple idea in our heads, but My Cousin Rachel sparks us to ask did she or didn't she, and then makes us question our choice every step of the way.

From the beginning, Phillip's beliefs about her guilt and wanting to make her pay for his relative's death is easy to side with. What he knows or assumes about Rachel from his loved one's letters about her as a "torment" and his worsening his health is all we need to believe she may be guilty too. When she shows up on his doorstep, her compelling presence, only wanting the best of everything for him, makes it difficult to gauge whether she's working his emotions to her own benefit or if she's as innocent as she could be. Lacking in any romantic relationships himself, he's overwhelmed by her femininity and prowess, easily squashing the vengeance he held so firmly. But as Phillip grows increasingly obsessed with his newfound love, nearly vying for ownership over her, it becomes harder to see Rachel as a murderess casting revenge, and more of a free spirit not wanting to be possessed by anyone; unfortunately, caged in by societal rules.

One thing is almost certain: their love affair will end in catastrophe, but along the way, the story asks who the culprit is. The story starts out concerned if Rachel murdered Ambrose, and slowly begins mirroring a possibility of how their relationship grew troublesome. At once Phillip and Rachel can be hopeful, joyous, and splendidly over the moon about each other, but then on a dime turns extraordinarily spiteful and malicious. At every turn, Rachel never escapes the unyielding paranoia Phillip has cast on her, or she cast on herself. For both of them, the question we started out with of who killed Ambrose turns into who is the victim and the manipulator.

To make this work, the leads had to be very special. From big adaptations The Hunger Games and Me Before You to smaller productions like Their Finest, Sam Claflin rarely does no-wrong. Phillip required someone who was dashing and broken, skeptical and selfish, and Claflin offers everything his character needs to believe in his convictions whether they're wrong or right. To build his downfalls, by the same token, Rachel Weisz captures an enigmatic spirit for Rachel. In no time at all, one can't help but be warmed by her spirits, sympathetic of the quickly forgotten notion that she too lost Ambrose, guilty for casting her innocence aside too soon, but also left questioning her intentions. Throughout her career Weisz's managed a myriad of complex roles, slipping under the radar as one of the best actresses in Meryl Streep's league. Together, they make an hypnotic, complicated duo.

Melding the story and performances with the direction and stunning cinematography, My Cousin Rachel adequately fills every gothic-romance fanatics's needs. If a scene is cast in a meadow, one can't help but feel the breeze and freedom the outdoor gives. When set inside the house, it's quaint by claustrophobic. Every frame evokes that moody, unrequited stay in a haunted house waiting for the skeletons to come out of the closet. As an author DuMaurier has always been ample material for Hitchcockian-like films, and Roger Mitchell rekindling one of her stories delivers the ambiguity she delved into to make a visually and emotionally pleasing puzzle.

My Cousin Rachel proves to be a compelling mystery, a rare chameleon as a whirlwind love affair, and an identity crises for its leads. Thriving on paranoia, the who-dun-it elements work seamlessly for a first viewing, and subsequently inspire you to seek what you might've missed before. Aided by fascinating actors, a capable script, and beautiful cinematography, the movie dispenses a daunting ballad of horror and romance.

Rating: ★★★
Have you seen My Cousin Rachel?
What did you think?

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Love, Rosie (2014)

Love Rosie movie review
Photo Credit: Love Rosie / Lionsgate
When have you missed the perfect moment to tell someone that you love them? It could be a once in a lifetime or every day opportunity. For inseparable best friends Rosie (Lily Collins) and Alex (Sam Claflin), their true feelings take a backseat to fear and juvenile naivete. During their escape out of London to pursue college in America, Rosie gets pregnant as Alex (who is NOT the father) chases his dreams across the pond. As they grow up, the distance between them becomes a hindrance and ally.

Love, Rosie, like many romantic comedies, explores when two people are a perfect fit but can't or won't admit how much they love each other. Over the span of twelve years from teenage-dom to adulthood, something always tarnishes that little amount of courage that rises to the occasion. Rather than delving down the dramatic route, the film is a surprising upbeat and tender procrastinator of happy-ever-after. Balancing the timeline between ages and locations, the characters and conflicts bounce off of each other with humor and charm.

With a few credits to his name, director Christian Ditter adapts Cecilia Ahern's novel to the best of his ability. (I haven't read the original book yet.) From the beginning it's obvious boy and girl love each other. Instead of selling us the ending we know will happen eventually, his direction allows the tension of when-will-they flow with ease. A great credit of the films' light-hearted atmosphere also goes to Christian Rein. He does a beautiful job with the handheld cinematography, capturing the characters as they muscle through triumphs and heartbreak.

Where the film truly succeeds is the connection between Collins and Claflin. Together, they gel so well - at some points, I didn't know if I was shipping the actors or the characters. They are not on the screen long before we believe how close their connection is. As much as the film is about the duo, more attention lies on Rosie whose dreams change as she becomes a single-mother. Collins offers a charming performance grounding Rosie with integrity and sincerity. Having starred in several films so far, her modest work is something I look forward to. As well, Claflin is heart-warming, and honestly, delicious. Let's just have more of him, please! They are both on the cusp of great work ahead, as they have the on-screen charisma and talent to take them far.

Who isn't in the mood for a fluffy love story? This film not perfect, but it's a surprisingly enjoyable experience that summons the feels if you allow them to arrive. Being in the midst of a Finnick O'Dair mode helped my enthusiasm to take a chance on. Now, I'm in full Claflin and Collins mode, and, ready to watch again. But first, I couldn't just let this movie go by without sharing how much I liked it. Okay, loved.

Rating: ★★★
Have you seen Love Rosie? What did you think?