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All reviews - Movies (14) - TV Shows (7)

Leprechaun: Back 2 tha Hood review

Posted : 5 years, 7 months ago on 2 December 2012 06:09 (A review of Leprechaun: Back 2 tha Hood)

The film opens with an animated prologue revealing the origins of leprechauns, stating that they were summoned by a king to protect his gold. After the death of the king the Leprechauns returned to their places of origin, all except one (Warwick Davis) who remained in the mortal world and through the ages slowly became corrupted and obsessed with the treasure he still guarded. In the present, Father Jacob (Willie C. Carpenter) is chased through the construction site of the youth center he had planned on building by the Leprechaun, whose gold Jacob had taken to fund the building project. Using four-leaf clover laced holy water Jacob manages to banish the Leprechaun, summoning demonic hands which drag him underground, but soon after drops dead of injuries inflicted by the Leprechaun during the fight.

One year later, two friends, Emily Woodrow (Tangi Miller) and Lisa Duncan (Sherrie Jackson), have their fortune told when the clairvoyant Esmeralda (Donzaleigh Abernathy) who warns them that they will attain great wealth soon, but it must be denied as it will come at a great price and summon a terrible evil. While having a barbecue at the abandoned youth center construction site with Lisa, their stoner friend Jamie Davis (Page Kennedy) and her ex-boyfriend-turned-drug dealer Rory Jackson (Laz Alonso), Emily falls through a hole and discovers the Leprechaun's gold in an old tunnel where it was hidden by Father Jacob. Evenly splitting up the gold, the quartet of friends use it to fulfill their fantasies, unaware that by taking the gold they have released the Leprechaun, who begins stalking the group (killing a guest by impaling his chest with a bong, taking one of his coins at a party held by Jamie, prompting the police to temporarily arrest him). At the salon where Emily works the Leprechaun sneaks in and, after killing a regular customer, Doria, on the massage table by breaking her neck, attacks Emily, who barely escapes and warns Rory and the recently released Jamie, who rush to get to Lisa's. In her house, Lisa is attacked by the Leprechaun and manages to fight him off for a short while, but is killed when the Leprechaun claws her in the stomach, with her friends finding her body moments later.

While Emily and Jamie want to return the gold, Rory does not and takes off with it; shortly after realizing Rory is gone, Emily is attacked and chased outside by the Leprechaun, but is saved when Rory has a change of heart and comes back for her. Searching for Rory the Leprechaun stops by his house and kills Rory's profligate girlfriend Chanel (Keesha Sharp) by tearing out her upper jaw, reclaiming the gold she used to make a tooth while Rory and Emily are stopped and harassed by Officers Thompson (Beau Billingslea) and Whitaker (Chris Murray). After the Leprechaun appears and kills the two officers, Emily and Rory escape and regroup with Jamie, only to be confronted by a machine gun wielding group of Rory's drug-dealing rivals, led by Watson (Shiek Mahmud-Bey) and Cedric (Sticky Fingaz). Planning on executing Rory for infringing on their territory, Watson and his gang are all disposed of by the Leprechaun, while Emily, Rory and Jamie drive off in Watson's car (which the Leprechaun latches to the bottom of for a short while) and go looking for help from Esmeralda.

Advised to use four-leaf clovers against the Leprechaun by Esmeralda, Rory laces the hollow-point bullets of his gun with clovers Jamie finds in the marijuana Rory had earlier sold him. When the Leprechaun arrives, Rory shoots him several times with the clover bullets, only for his gun to jam before he can finish the Leprechaun off. Rory and Emily are given the chance to run with the gold when the Leprechaun is distracted by Jamie, who is quickly wounded with a baseball bat to the leg, and Esmeralda dies in a magical duel with the Leprechaun. Followed to the roof of the building, Rory tries fighting the Leprechaun and is knocked out, though before the Leprechaun can kill him, Emily taunts him by throwing some of his gold into nearby wet cement and lures him into the ruins of the youth center, where she tosses his gold into a furnace before knocking the Leprechaun in with it.

Believing the Leprechaun is dead, Emily returns to Rory, only for the recovered Leprechaun to renew his attack on them. Knocking Emily off the roof and leaving her barely holding on, the Leprechaun taunts her, but is shot several times in the middle of his speech by Rory, who had fixed his gun. Shooting the Leprechaun repeatedly, Rory runs out of bullets, but distracts him long enough for Emily to hit the Leprechaun with the chest of coins, sending him plummeting off the rooftop and into the wet cement below, where the Leprechaun sinks and becomes trapped with his gold.

The movie then cuts back to the animated prologue like the one at the beginning, and the Leprechaun digs himself out of the ground, leaving a cliffhanger ending.

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Grace review

Posted : 5 years, 7 months ago on 2 December 2012 06:02 (A review of Grace)

The film begins in 1797 with William Wilberforce severely ill and taking a recuperative holiday in Bath, Somerset, with his cousin, Henry Thornton. It is here that William is introduced to his future wife, Barbara Spooner. Although he initially resists any romantic overtures, she convinces him to relate the story of his career.

The story flashes back 15 years to 1782, and William recounts the events that led him to where he is now. Beginning as a young, ambitious, and popular Tory Member of Parliament (MP), he experiences a religious enlightenment and aligns himself with the evangelical wing of the Church of England. William contemplates leaving politics to study theology however is persuaded by his friends William Pitt, Thomas Clarkson, Hannah More, and Olaudah Equiano that he will be more effective doing the work of God by taking on the unpopular and dangerous issue of the abolition of the British slave trade. His conviction in the cause deepens following a meeting with his former mentor John Newton (introduced sweeping a church floor dressed in sackcloth) who is said to live "in the company of 20,000 ghosts... slaves". As a former slave ship captain turned Evangelical Christian, he deeply regrets his past life and the effects on his fellow man. Newton urges William to take up the cause.

Pitt becomes Prime Minister and William becomes a key supporter and confidant. Pitt gives William the opportunity to present a bill before the house outlawing the slave trade. William's passionate campaigning leads him to become highly unpopular in the House of Commons. He is opposed by a coalition of MPs representing vested interests of the slave trade in London, Bristol, Glasgow, and Liverpool led by Banastre Tarleton and the Duke of Clarence. Despite popular support and the assistance of an unlikely ally in the form of Charles James Fox, William's bill to abolish the slave trade goes down to defeat. Afterward, the film portrays Pitt as one of his few friends and allies remaining in Parliament however even their relationship becomes strained. Pitt, now facing the stresses of leading a shaky coalition during the French Revolutionary Wars, tells William that his cause must now wait for a more stable political climate.

William keeps up the fight but after years of failure he is left exhausted and frustrated that he was unable to change anything in the government. Believing his life's work has been in vain, he becomes physically ill (in the film he is depicted as suffering from chronic colitis which causes him to become addicted to laudanum prescribed for the crippling pain), which brings the story back up to 1797. Having virtually given up hope, William considers leaving politics forever. Barbara convinces him to keep fighting because there is no other person who is willing or able to do so. A few days afterward, William and Barbara marry. Several years pass with no further success however William's wife and new children provide him with the support and strength needed to carry on the fight.

Finally, with a renewed hope for success William devises a backdoor method of slowly weakening the slave trade through seemingly innocuous legislation. Aided by Thornton, Clarkson, and new ally James Stephen and cheered on by the now termminally ill Pitt, he reintroduces his bill to abolish the slave trade. In time, after the 20-year campaign and many attempts to bring legislation forward, he is eventually responsible for a bill being passed through Parliament in 1807, which abolishes the slave trade in the British Empire forever.

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Slipstream review

Posted : 6 years, 9 months ago on 28 September 2011 07:04 (A review of Slipstream)

Aging screenwriter Felix Bonhoeffer has lived his life in two states of existence: in reality and his own interior world. While working on a murder mystery script, and unaware that his brain is on the verge of implosion, Felix is baffled when his characters start to appear in his life, and vice versa.

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The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler review

Posted : 6 years, 9 months ago on 26 September 2011 08:42 (A review of The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler)

The story of Irena Sendler, a social worker who was part of the Polish underground during World War II and was arrested by the Nazi's for saving the lives of nearly 2,500 Jewish children by smuggling them out of the Warsaw ghetto.

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Amish Grace review

Posted : 6 years, 10 months ago on 27 August 2011 05:48 (A review of Amish Grace)

On Monday morning, October 2, 2006, a gunman entered a one-room Amish school in Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania. In front of twenty-five horrified pupils, thirty-two-year-old Charles Roberts ordered the boys and the teacher to leave. After tying the legs of the ten remaining girls, Roberts prepared to shoot them execution with an automatic rifle and four hundred rounds of ammunition that he brought for the task. The oldest hostage, a thirteen-year-old, begged Roberts to "shoot me first and let the little ones go." Refusing her offer, he opened fire on all of them, killing five and leaving the others critically wounded. He then shot himself as police stormed the building. His motivation? "I'm angry at God for taking my little daughter," he told the children before the massacre.

The story captured the attention of broadcast and print media in the United States and around the world. By Tuesday morning some fifty television crews had clogged the small village of Nickel Mines, staying for five days until the killer and the killed were buried. The blood was barely dry on the schoolhouse floor when Amish parents brought words of forgiveness to the family of the one who had slain their children.

The outside world was incredulous that such forgiveness could be offered so quickly for such a heinous crime.

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The Outsider review

Posted : 6 years, 11 months ago on 21 August 2011 04:48 (A review of The Outsider)

A western love story revolving around the forbidden love between a young widow from a Quaker-like religious group and a cold-blooded gunslinger whom she takes into her home after he is wounded. (IMDb source)

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Benny & Joon review

Posted : 7 years, 1 month ago on 11 June 2011 07:23 (A review of Benny & Joon)

A Romance on the Brink of Reality.

Looking for an excellent stay-at-home date movie? You can't go wrong watching this quirky romantic comedy/drama that stars Johnny Depp and Mary Stuart Masterson as two incredibly odd people who fall in love. "Benny and Joon" is an outstanding story of love and understanding.

Benny needs someone to look after his mentally disturbed little sister, Juniper (Joon, for short). Benny's job running an automotive repair shop keeps him away from the house during the day, and Joon can't be trusted home alone - she has a tendency to set things on fire, along with some other strange traits. A friend's cousin, Sam, is looking for a place to stay, and ends up (after Benny loses a poker game that determines Sam's living arrangements) moving in with Benny and Joon, and becoming Joon's caretaker.

Joon is initially wary of Sam, but grows to enjoy and understand her new friend's bizarre personality. Sam loves Buster Keaton and does physical comedy routines, in public, much to the amazement of Joon and Benny. He also has an unusual method of cooking grilled cheese sandwiches that amuses Joon, and astounds Benny. Sam and Joon connect with one another in ways that are deeper than Benny can understand. Joon soon falls hard for Sam, and the feeling is reciprocal. Benny has a hard time dealing with Joon and Sam's relationship, and with Joon's newfound independence. Complicating matters is Benny's turmoil about having to possibly place his sister in a group home.

"Benny and Joon" features an outstanding cast, including an amazing performance by Johnny Depp as the strange - but lovable - Sam. Mary Stuart Masterson is wonderful as Joon, and Aidan Quinn does a fine job as her hard-working, responsible, big brother, Benny. "Benny and Joon" is one of those little films that received little notice upon its initial release, but has gone on to amass a huge number of fans over the years.

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Fingersmith review

Posted : 7 years, 1 month ago on 10 June 2011 12:18 (A review of Fingersmith)

When the BBC's first adaptation of a Sarah Waters book, Tipping the Velvet, premiered in 2002, it was met with mixed reactions and a fair amount of controversy. It seemed extraordinary that the prudish, proper BBC--the main television broadcaster in Britain--would even show such a lesbian drama, but many lesbian viewers felt they edited out too much of the lesbian content.

Thankfully, three years later, the reaction to the BBC's broadcast of the adaptation of another Sarah Waters novel, Fingersmith, has been much less scandalous, either because British society now has a more relaxed attitude towards sex on television (also demonstrated in the BBC's recent adaptation of Casanova, about the most famous male nymphomaniac), or, more optimistically, because there has been a gradual increase in the acceptance of homosexuality in the last few years--at least within the framework of nineteenth-century Britain and tight corsets.

Given the disappointment many lesbians felt with the adaptation of Tipping the Velvet, I tuned into the first installment of the three-part Fingersmith on Sunday, March 27th, with a mixture of hope and trepidation. My fears diminished soon after the movie opened, however, and scenes of a poverty-stricken, disease-ridden Victorian London filled the screen, introducing the lavish set and costume design that would serve as the backdrop to the story.

Like Tipping the Velvet, Fingersmith is a story of lesbian love, deceit and betrayal set in Victorian England (see our Fingersmith book review for a more thorough plot description). The adaptation begins by highlighting the very different upbringings of two young women: Sue (Sally Hawkins) the teenage orphan who is trained as a fingersmith (slang for a petty thief, or pick-pocket) by the crime boss who takes her in; and Maud (Elaine Cassidy), the privileged but repressed member of high society set to inherit a small fortune from her father.

Sue's humorous, free manner contrasts sharply with Maud's constricted seriousness. Elaine Cassidy seems comfortable in the role, displaying repressed emotion through a stony countenance, loosening only when laughing at Sue's jokes, or dancing with her. The actress's greatest achievement early on in the movie is to hint at the better scenes to come, when Maud will finally be able to begin to let go of her seemingly emotionless character.

In many reviews, Sally Hawkins has been highlighted as the actress who shines, and it's not hard to see why. Her expressive face successfully communicates a range of emotions throughout the whole episode (most probably throughout the whole series.) She brings subtle comedy to the scene where Sue, an illiterate Londoner, is getting exasperated at learning how to dress a lady (using a chair as a prop), or when gazing upon the "mile after bleeding mile" of countryside. Even in the short snippets where Sue practices her curtsey, we are forced to smile.

Imelda Staunton as Mrs. Sucksby, the woman who takes in Sue after she's orphaned and trains her in the art of deception, and Rupert Evans as the Gentleman (aka Mr. Rivers), round out the cast of characters at the heart of this drama.

Gentleman brings Sue and Maud together as part of an elaborate scheme to swindle Maud of her inheritance by convincing Maud to marry him. Gentleman is more of a caricature than an actual character, but Evans plays his role to the hilt: lecherous, innuendo-filled remarks slide off his tongue as though commonplace, and his physical frustration at Sue's lack of progress with Maud masterfully conveys the patriarchal repression that permeates Victorian-era society.

Evans and Hawkins play off each other well as initial partners-in-crime. Sue often looks as though she is on the verge of rolling her eyes when hearing Gentleman's slimy comments to Maud, adding to both the tension and the comic relief. Compared with Tipping the Velvet, many viewers will find this drama slower-moving and more serious, but also perhaps more faithful to its source. The slower pace allows viewers to feast on the setting, costumes and acting, and also contributes wonderfully to the mounting tension between Sue and Maud that begins when Sue suggestively rubs Maud's tooth with a thimble, and culminates in a bedroom scene which first seems to veer towards the comic (with Sue bewildered at Maud's naïve questions), then becomes sweet and romantic.

Until the morning after, where anguish at the marriage of Maud to Gentleman looms.

The second episode starts off considerably slower than the first, as it attempts to keep the conspiracy a secret from unsuspecting viewers. But soon, Sue and Gentleman's plan is discovered by Maud, who feels betrayed. Elaine Cassidy demonstrates the true depth of Maud's character beneath her brittle exterior, as Maud shows the full extent of her love for Sue despite the betrayal. Sally Hawkins, in turn, demonstrates her excellent ability, particularly in a scene in which Sue is imploring the doctors to look after Maud.

Rupert Evans continues to be one-dimensional, and Imelda Staunton continues to seem more humorous than sinister. The scenes in the lunatic asylum were also incredibly short, once again relying on the viewer having read the book, or at least being content to be confused.

The third and final installment is where the adaptation truly shines. Maud, disgusted and suspicious of the Lant Street inhabitants, learns the true extent of the scheme she is entangled in, while Sue is still imprisoned in the asylum. Maud, imprisoned in her own way, attempts to escape, while Sue's illiteracy is mistaken for further evidence of her "madness."

Eventually, Sue escapes in a manner that is true to the novel, and is just as exciting and suspenseful as Sarah Waters's original creation. But it isn't explained how Sue and the young boy who helped her escape suddenly arrive in London after stealing some clothes, depending again on the viewer's ability to fill in the gaps. Mrs. Sucksby, who initially came across comically, is not so funny anymore as she reveals the final twist in the story, to which Cassidy's Maud responds superbly.

When Sue eventually returns to Lant Street, there is a dramatic scene full of revelation and confusion, cumulating in the stabbing of Gentleman, another turn of events that might have been bewildering to those who have not read the book. After this, time leaps forward, and we learn through Sue's narration what has befallen each of the characters.

Although it would be lengthy and time-consuming to dramatize all the events that unfolded, the viewer cannot but feel a little cheated by learning the characters' fates via voice-over after such a dramatic and visual build-up. Fortunately, a wonderful, touching conclusion rewards the viewer's perseverance.

Some reviewers have stated that this series is likely to leave the viewer feeling depressed and cynical about human nature, but I found it inspiring. Although it is rife with deception and betrayal, it also bristles with energy, and, ultimately, love--which in the end, does conquer all.

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Tipping the Velvet review

Posted : 7 years, 1 month ago on 10 June 2011 12:11 (A review of Tipping the Velvet)

I first read Tipping the Velvet at the suggestion of a friend, who told me that it was full of “yummy bits.” I began reading it somewhat skeptically, as I have never really been a fan of “lesbian novels,” but Sarah Waters’s erotic and involving tale quickly pulled me in — and yes, the yummy bits were very yummy.

So when I heard that the BBC was making a miniseries out of the novel, I was both intrigued and excited. How would they manage those tasty scenes involving toys and tongues and tarts (oh my)? Although BBCAmerica aired the miniseries in the U.S. last spring, it cut out most of those tasty tidbits, to the frustration of many American viewers.

Now that Tipping the Velvet has been released on DVD, we all have the opportunity to see what aired in the U.K. in 2002.

Tipping the Velvet is both a coming-of-age and a coming-out story, chronicling the adventures of small-town oyster-shucker Nan Astley (Rachael Stirling) in Victorian England. After she falls in love with music hall male-impersonator Kitty Butler (Keeley Hawes), Nan follows her to London as her stage dresser and eventually joins her on stage (also dressed as a boy) and in her bed, as her lover.

Nan’s first love dies a melodramatic death when she returns from a trip home to find Kitty in bed with their manager, Walter Bliss (John Bowe).

Fleeing the scene in heartbroken tears, Nan spends several months supporting herself by tricking in the dark alleyways of London — once again dressed as a boy. She is picked up one night by Diana Lethaby (Anna Chancellor), a wealthy woman who takes Nan in as her “tart,” and introduces her to the delights of leather dildos and life as a kept woman. But when Diana discovers Nan in bed with her maid, she is thrown out on the street once again.

This time she turns to Florence Banner (Jodhi May) — a woman she once barely knew — for help, and she convinces Flo to let her join her modest working-class home as a housekeeper.

For those who have read Sarah Waters’s absorbing and dramatic novel, the BBC version will be both satisfying and strangely different. Because it was filmed for television as a three-hour miniseries, the story had to be shortened, making some of the scenes seem oddly rushed — particularly the first time Kitty and Nan kiss.

But because it was filmed for television, the BBC version is also able to show the performances of Kitty Butler and Nan King (Nan’s stage name) in a way that the book cannot.

The scenes of Kitty and Nan singing and dancing on stage are delightful and not only provide a fascinating glimpse of what the music hall might have looked like, but also do an excellent job of telling Kitty and Nan’s love story.

The carnival-like atmosphere of the variety show permeates the majority of the miniseries through its use of vibrant color in set decoration, beautiful Victorian-era costuming, and campy side-show music. This lively feel was very pleasing at first, but as the three-hour drama progressed I found myself increasingly annoyed by the music, which was appropriate for the music hall scenes but seemed entirely out-of-place when it accompanied Nan’s discovery of Kitty and Walter together. The film also largely ignores the homophobia which played a major part in Kitty’s rejection of Nan — an omission that blunts the story’s realism and makes it seem more like a gaudy melodrama. It seems that the process of adapting the novel to the small screen meant the elimination of many of the more serious elements of the story — including the ending, which differs from the novel in a surprising but not un-satisfying way.

Keeley Hawes delivers a fine performance as Kitty Butler, and her combination of femininity and magnetic charm is the true embodiment of the fantasy of Kitty Butler that Nan is drawn to.

Early in the miniseries when Kitty offers a red rose to a blushing Nan Astley at the end of her stage set, Hawes is the perfect combination of Marlene Dietrich glamour (reminding us that a woman in a well-cut tuxedo is irresistible) and subtle lesbian lust.

While Rachael Stirling (who is also, by the way, the daughter of Diana Rigg, a.k.a. Emma Peel) does an admirable job playing Nan, she unfortunately falls short when it comes to playing up Nan’s butchness.

The Nan Astley of the novel is tall, lanky, and most definitely passes as a man. In the book, when she is first dressed up as a boy to join Kitty on stage, Walter Bliss declares that she looks too much like a boy, and has her suit tailored to mimic a woman’s hips and bust so that the audience has no chance to mistake her for a man.

Rachael Stirling, however, is undeniably feminine, and although she makes an effort to walk like a man, she doesn’t ever quite succeed. Although her husky voice is perfectly suited for this role, she is handicapped by costuming and make-up (ever-present eyeliner and lipstick) that constantly mark her as a pretty woman. This effectively mutes Nan’s masculinity, and reminds us once again that butch women are very rarely seen on television or in films.

The fact that the BBC version was both written and directed by men makes me wonder if that is the reason that Nan remains fairly femme, as female masculinity in a lesbian context is often threatening to men. The screenwriter, Andrew Davies, is well-known for his adaptations of Bridget Jones’s Diary and the acclaimed BBC production of Pride and Prejudice, and his adaptation of Tipping the Velvet remains true to the general story in the novel.

But director Geoffrey Sax, who has mostly directed television movies in the U.K., is too heavy-handed in his usage of visual symbolism to summarize Nan’s emotional state. In one instance, just before Nan and Kitty first kiss, a flame leaps up from the bottom of the screen to remind us of — one assumes — their fiery passion.

Unfortunately, Sax’s direction fails to turn up the heat in the love scenes, which mostly resemble soft-core straight porn’s version of lesbian love-making.

Although some of the scenes are sweet and romantic, complete with golden lighting and soft music, they lack the raw hunger that leapt from the pages of Sarah Waters’s novel. In Nan’s first sexual experience with Diana, the circus music inexplicably returns, making an extremely erotic encounter more of a laughable romp. And Nan and Flo’s relationship is painted as a very tender and innocent one, rather than the more experienced and savvy one of the novel.

Finally, many of these love scenes are marred by an almost unforgivable sin: the tongue-on-teeth kiss patented by the porn industry. It’s clear that the director didn’t know anything about how lesbians make love, much less how they have sex. But making a filmed version of any novel automatically sets the finished product up for criticism, because it is virtually impossible to match every reader’s individual expectations.

If you have not read Tipping the Velvet, the BBC version will be very entertaining and romantic. The sets and costumes are fantastic, and Keeley Hawes alone is worth watching. The BBC is also to be applauded for making a miniseries out of Tipping the Velvet, which is an unapologetically lesbian novel. For those who have read the novel, it’s important to watch the BBC version with the knowledge that it would be extremely difficult to recreate the vivid world that Sarah Waters created.

And if you’re anything like me, watching the miniseries will prompt you to re-read the book, which is absolutely, unforgettably delicious.

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Angel Baby review

Posted : 7 years, 1 month ago on 10 June 2011 12:00 (A review of Angel Baby)

Heartbreakingly good and filled with a desperate intensity, ''Angel Baby'' offers a breakthrough role to John Lynch, the Irish actor more familiar for his character roles. Not since ''Cal'' has the tender, mournful Mr. Lynch had a comparable chance to shine. As written and directed with great depth of feeling by Michael Rymer, this wild, doomy love story casts Mr. Lynch and Jacqueline McKenzie as two mentally fragile people caught up in a whirlwind courtship that is as perilous as it is intoxicating. The film won a number of well-deserved awards in Australia in 1995.

''Angel Baby'' first introduces Harry (Mr. Lynch), who is doing his tentative best to live a quiet life with the family of his brother (Colin Friels). Harry relies on medication and group therapy to keep him calm, but the effect of meeting Kate (Ms. McKenzie) at the clinic throws him utterly off balance. Waifish, raccoon-eyed Kate is a free spirit with an even more troubled history than Harry's. But it's not her difficulties that draw Harry to her, not even when the two compare slash marks on their wrists.

Instead, this film captures their intense physical intimacy as Harry and Kate fall raptly in love. The two actors intertwine in ways that are deep, erotic and a shade panic-stricken, as if they were clinging for dear life. They are.

A few danger signs along the way, like the fact that Kate thinks she is receiving secret messages from a ''Wheel of Fortune''-like television show, or some uncertain stabs at lightheartedness with the film's supporting players, bring ''Angel Baby'' dangerously close to a cute and patronizing view of its characters' illness. But these performances are too believable and wrenching to allow any trivializing of the story.

Hoping sweetly and blindly that they can live happily ever after, Harry and Kate go through all the motions of setting up a conventional life, as when he brings her to dinner with his brother's family. It does not go unremarked that Kate is beautiful but can't use silverware.

The stakes rise when, after the couple idyllically set up housekeeping in colorfully escapist style, Kate becomes pregnant. At the very least, there are chemical worries: if she wants the baby she must stop taking her medication, and the hormonal effects of pregnancy may have devastating effects. Still the lovers decide they are destined to have this baby, even if it means taking a wild leap into the unknown. The whole film is about taking such chances and romantically seizing love at the expense of safety. ''I wanted to make the kind of movie that if I would have seen at 18 would have changed my life,'' Mr. Rymer has written.

Mr. Lynch does a beautiful job of conveying Harry's mad love and terrible confusion. He is seen yearning to love and protect Kate while also sensing, with quiet anguish, that the task is beyond his means. Ms. McKenzie, who previously appeared in ''Romper Stomper,'' plays the freer spirit with scary, captivating abandon, making it easy to understand why Harry would do anything for her. The two performances are perfectly balanced. They keep the characters brave and touching right to the end.

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