Review: Hail Caeser



DIR/WRI: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen • PRO: Tim Bevan, Ethan Coen, Joel Coen, Eric Fellner • DOP: Roger Deakins • ED: Dylan Tichenor • DES: Jess Gonchor • MUS: Carter Burwell • CAST: Channing Tatum, Scarlett Johansson, Tilda Swinton

To utilise a recurring phrase from Hail Caesar the Coens Brothers always make prestige pictures. Though increasingly their individual filmic output seems to be instantly and strictly branded by critics as either serious fare or lighter fluff. Based on their own terse thoughts in interviews, it’s hardly a distinction the brothers make themselves. And yet here we are again, ostensibly and somehow undeniably at the lighter end of the sliding scale of seriousness.

Cards on table, I am avid fan battling to hold onto impartiality and discernment. Still, I can’t fight the feeling that the serious pictures are being a tad over-praised these days and the lighter pictures unnecessarily lambasted. Early word and trailers for Hail Caesar! were highly promising. The studio setting. The welcome presence of Josh Brolin in a lead role. Clooney looking to poke fun at acting hubris. What’s not to love? And since when have the Coens not wrangled tension, humour and even emotion out of a kidnap plot?

The elements are all present and correct. And yet something at the heart of the film fails to fire, leaving the entertainment soufflé stubbornly refusing to rise. Certainly, there are moments of quality and levity that hit the mark but they are scattered throughout the film like an bony archipelago where a spine should be. Hail Caesar! is brightly shot and endearingly performed by a terrific ensemble cast but crucially and fatally, it’s never exactly fun or funny.

It’s a danger for any reviewer to start reviewing the film Hail Caesar! with what could or should have been but I contend that the promotional materials promised one film while delivering another. Not an uncommon occurrence but insightful since the most effective trailers for this film pitched it as a thriller. And surely that was the connective tissue to ease an audience through this maze of murky plot and uneven tone. The central character Eddie Mannix (Brolin) is a Hollywood studio fixer and initially seems to be occupying a recognisably hard-boiled world. Everyone else is literally acting in a different movie – which may be a very meta-joke as Eddie flitters from film set to film set trying to quell problems – but it’s still an unsolved flaw at the heart of Hail Caesar! Summed up by the kidnapping of one of the studio’s biggest stars Baird Whitlock (Clooney) being drained of any tension by the audience being privy to both sides of the abduction from the get-go.

Again, the Coens are proved masters of making even this scenario sing but here it’s off-key. Thrillers need tension and so occasionally do comedies. Moments of potential interest like studio extras being braced for information are referenced in passing but not depicted – who doesn’t want to see that scene? And yet the Coens are clearly more enthralled with evoking this era on soundstages onto which Mannix walks to impotently watch entire musical numbers of impressive scale but scant narrative interest. In The Big Lebowski, the Dude’s drug fevered dreams still advanced the story and deepened character. As impressive as Channing Tatum’s dance sequence is, beyond the nimble hoofing, it has nothing going on under the hood.

Even by Saturday night multiplex standards, the whole thing starts to feel frightfully slight. Amiable performances alone aren’t enough. Ralph Fiennes returns to mining his recently discovered comedy chops and newcomer Alden Ehrenreich has fun as a drawling cowpoke pushed into a period drama but it’s all a little dramatically inert. Even the solace of great dialogue is mainly absent but of course, there is the occasional golden line.

Overall, one has to be careful and acknowledge historical precedent. The Coens’ body of work contains several films that have grown in affection and stature as the years pass. Personally, Burn After Reading and Intolerable Cruelty have risen off the floor and proved to have an afterlife. I fervently hope Hail Caesar! grows in prestige as the years go by. Hell, that would be swell.

James Phelan

12A (See IFCO for details)
105 minutes

Hail Caesar! is released 4th March 2016

Hail Caesar!  – Official Website





Review: A Bigger Splash


DIR: Luca Guadagnino • WRI: David Kajganich • PRO: Michael Costigan, Luca Guadagnino • DOP: Yorick Le Saux • ED: Walter Fasano • DES: Maria Djurkovic • CAST: Dakota Johnson, Tilda Swinton, Ralph Fiennes, Matthias Schoenaert


After their ravishing 2009 collaboration I am Love, director Luca Guadagnino and leading lady Tilda Switon have reconvened for an equally glamorous, but looser and loopier melodrama with A Bigger Splash. Less an adaptation of than a series of riffs upon Jacques Deray’s 1969 film La Piscine, A Bigger Splash gifts Swinton with an otherworldly queen bee part that seems tailored to her strengths, and finds outlandish new things to do with Ralph Fiennes. If the film’s collection of frissons is ultimately less satisfying than the knockout punch of I am Love, it’s still as enjoyable, refreshing, and ever-so-slightly discombobulating as a good holiday.

Swinton plays fictitious rock icon Marianne Lane (equal parts David Bowie, Mick Jagger and Chrissie Hynde), who is recovering from vocal chord surgery, and consequently cannot raise her voice above a throaty whisper.  To recuperate, she has retreated to the Italian island of Pantelleria with her lover Paul (Matthias Schoenaerts) – only for their impeccably stylish idyll to be rudely interrupted by Marianne’s former manager/lover/enabler Harry (Fiennes), who arrives uninvited, and with his sullenly provocative newfound daughter Penelope (Johnson) in tow.

The scene is thus set for all manner of smouldering permutations and recriminations, as the quartet circle each other in various predator/prey configurations until somebody ends up face down in the swimming pool around which they habitually congregate.  Guadagnino, however, is plainly less concerned with the ‘suspense film’ dynamics of his story than with conjuring a particular sinister insouciance within which his very game cast can romp about.

Of the leads, Swinton and Fiennes give object lessons in the benefits of playing to and against type, respectively.  Simply watching Swinton occupy space on screen has always been a fascinating proposition, since her remarkable extended wordless take in Derek Jarman’s War Requiem (1989).  Guadagnino is plainly too fascinated by her singular way of moving – and by her just-so Raf Simons wardrobe – to ask anything as austerely demanding of her here, but there’s a limber grace to her near-silent performances that contrasts intriguingly with her constricted voice.  Fiennes, on the other hand, is thrillingly obnoxious – always voluble and frequently stark naked, he is the very definition of the unwanted house guest.  It’s as fascinating to watch him foisted on others as it is horrifying to imagine him in one’s own home.

Johnson – who was ill-represented by the unbearably naff Fifty Shades of Grey – makes the most of every opportunity to smoulder and sulk.  Crucially, however, she also brings shading and nuance to a character (played by a kittenish Jane Birkin in Deray’s film) who could easily have had none.  Schoenaerts draws the short straw.  While he and Swinton have a screen-fogging physical chemistry, he seems reluctant to enter into the swing of Guadagnino’s tangy melodramatics.  While some of the reticence is undoubtedly his character’s, at other points the odd discomfort looks more like his own.

The ever-lovely Aurore Clément has a sly small role, and Corrado Guzzanti enjoys himself as the local Carabinieri, but the key supporting player here is Pantelleria itself – volcanically beautiful, and regally indifferent to the petty squabbles of the mere mortals who inhabit it.  On the subject of regal indifference, Guadagnino’s gestures toward the hardships of illegal migrants entering Europe through the island never quite slot into the rest of the film.  This strand dangles underdeveloped, which may be an intriguing statement on the issue in its own right – but which also has the unfortunate side effect of swelling the running time of a film that could probably have benefitted from leaving 15 minutes on the cutting-room floor.

These are minor complaints, though, when A Bigger Splash as a whole is such a sly treat.  Like the David Hockey painting from which it – otherwise inexplicably – takes its title, the film mesmerises through its own glassy superficiality.  The pristine surface exudes good taste and – somehow, almost subliminally – hints at a sinister layer just beyond our reach.


David Turpin

15A (See IFCO for details)

124 minutes

A Bigger Splash is released 12th February 2016




Cinema Review: The Grand Budapest Hotel


DIR: Wes Anderson • WRI: Wes Anderson, Hugo Guinness • PRO: Steven M. Rales, Scott Rudin, Jeremy Dawson, Wes Anderson • DOP: Robert D. Yeoman • ED: Barney Pilling • MUS: Alexandre Desplat • DES: Adam Stockhausen • CAST: Saoirse Ronan, Ralph Fiennes, Tilda Swinton, Edward Norton


It’s safe to say that ever since his third feature, the irresistibly charming and endearing The Royal Tenenbaums, Wes Anderson has managed to establish himself as one of the most distinguishable and idiosyncratic directors in contemporary American cinema. In the past decade, Anderson has taken us from on board an eccentric oceanographer’s submarine while he seeks revenge on a glow-in-the-dark shark, to a luxury train travelling across India whilst three brothers seek spiritual enlightenment, to the tale of an anthropomorphic fox as he outsmarts three dim-witted farmers, and then to a fictional island off the coast of New England where two love-struck teenagers decide to elope after meeting at an amateur performance of Noye’s Fludde. As a result of this exceptionally offbeat aesthetic, his trademark dry wit, Anderson has won critical acclaim from both sides of the Atlantic, and there are certainly not many modern directors whose films can create such an air of anticipation amongst the more cine-literate of regular cinema attendees.

His eighth feature, The Grand Budapest Hotel, is certainly no exception and on this occasion, Anderson delves into the fantastical world of Mittel-Europa and takes inspiration from Stefan Zweig, the late Austrian writer who rose to prominence in the 1920s and 1930s before fleeing the continent as a result of the Second World War. The film however, is not a direct adaptation of anything in particular from Zweig’s body of work; instead, Anderson has seemingly infused his latest feature with several techniques and principles that are rooted in Zweig’s oeuvre. As a result, Anderson has created a film that will not only please his legions of followers; it might also have the power to sway even the most cynical of Anderson’s detractors.

The film begins with a young girl silently paying her respects to a memorial stone bust of an author famous for his book, ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’. From there, Anderson takes us back in time to the author’s experiences whilst staying at the hotel, located in an alpine resort in the fictional European principality of Zubrowka, and his relationship with one of the hotel’s most frequent guests, Zero Moustafa (played with gravitas by F. Murray Abraham). The aging Zero recounts to the author (Jude Law) his days working as a lobby boy in the hotel in the 1930s; back when the Grand Budapest was a lavish and opulent palace, full of decadent ornamentations and rich, vibrant decors, and back when it attracted only the most esteemed and refined individuals. It is here where we are introduced to the human embodiment of the sophisticated and flamboyant surroundings, one Gustave H (an extraordinary turn by Ralph Fiennes who showcases his little-known talent for comedy), the loquacious concierge who has a penchant for seducing the more senior female guests, and who takes the young, pencil-moustachio’d Zero under his wing. After one of Gustave’s former flings bequeaths a valuable Renaissance painting to him in her will, her discontented family, headed by Adrien Brody, do everything in their power to deprive Gustave of the prized, ‘Boy with Apple’.

With The Grand Budapest Hotel, Anderson seems to be not so concerned with history, but with the history of cinema; we can see references to Kubrick and F.W. Murnau, and the plot descends into an elaborate caper full of bizarre character studies, wondrous sequences (including a superb cat-and-mouse chase where Gustave and Zero zoom down a precarious mountain atop a toboggan in pursuit of Willem Dafoe on skis), and meticulously-designed, glamorous sets that are reminiscent of the traits of classical Hollywood films and murder-mysteries.  Anderson retains many of the unique characteristics and oddities that have come to epitomise his aesthetic, with added bursts of black humour, and moments of subtle melancholy and poignancy.

Such is the power of the fantastical images that they seem to possess an almost-ethereal quality, and by the time the film enters its final third, you find yourself daydreaming, completely lost in Anderson’s whimsical universe. While the tone remains relatively light-hearted throughout, the film’s more melancholic moments catch you off guard, but that’s not to say they are contrived or overly-sentimental; it’s a testament to Anderson’s skill  and ability that he can create moments of intense sadness in a film such as this without drowning them in affect.

With The Grand Budapest Hotel, Anderson has proven that he is undoubtedly a master of his craft and that he is currently at the peak of his powers. While many critics have found his films fastidious and favouring style over substance, the same can simply not be said about his latest. He has created a film that is utterly captivating, endlessly enjoyable, and so awe-inspiring, that it invites viewers to return again and again; if not for the gloriously detailed compositions, then for the magnificent performances from the ensemble cast, the rich characterisation, and the strangely moving ending that will linger long in the mind.

Gearóid Gilmore

15A (See IFCO for details)
109  mins

The Grand Budapest Hotel is released on 7th March 2014

The Grand Budapest Hotel – Official Website



Cinema Review: Only Lovers Left Alive



DIR/WRI: Jim Jarmusch  PRO: Reinhard Brundig, Jeremy Thomas   DOP: Yorick Le Saux ED: Affonso Gonçalves • MUS: Jozef van Wissem  DES: Marco Bittner Rosser  CAST: Tom Hiddleston, Tilda Swinton, Mia Wasikowska, John Hurt


The oddest thing has happened to vampires over the last few decades – they have lost their ability to bite. Originally embodying a monstrous sexual predator, their desire to penetrate the necks of beautiful young woman had previously been their overriding attribute. Now, they seem more concerned with the moral quandary of biting and these previous imps of evil have transformed into moody, self-indulgent figures. Surely we have humans enough for that?


Moody and self-indulgent are also labels that could be applied to Jim Jarmusch’s latest venture Only Lovers Left Alive. Despite being a vampire romance, this film will equally dissatisfy any Twlight or horror movie-fans that venture along to see it. However, Jarmusch fans who are ready to be absorbed into this his aesthetically and aurally rich world of by gone Hipster-dom won’t leave disappointed.


The plot, if that is not too strong a word for this meandering piece, centres around two vampires called Adam (Tom Hiddleston) and Eve (Tilda Swinton). Even after being married for nearly two centuries they are still in love like newly weds. Adam lives in a suburb of run down Detroit, symbolically representative of how he feels humanity (who he refers to as “zombies”) has reached an all time low. He skulks around his run-down mansion, playing complicated music while contemplating ending his world-weary existence. Basically, he’s that guy you knew in University who carried around a copy of the Communist Manifesto, only wore black, listened to obscure music and thought everyone else was an idiot. Eve is the metaphorical and literal light to his darkness. Dressing only in white with stark blonde hair, she lures him out of his depressive with talk of the wonders of the universe and the glories of past cultural endeavours. They name drop to the point of obscenity, Byron is labelled “a pompous bore” while Eve congratulates Adam on letting Schubert take the credit for his music. These modern vampires only drink blood procured from hospitals and reliable sources; biting necks is considered “so 15th century”.  The action builds to the arrival of Eve’s little sister Ava (Mia Wasikowska). Despite being an ancient vampire she has all the characteristics of an annoying teenager, and she comes to wreak havoc on their blissful, loved up existence. However, once again “action” is a strong word to give to any part of the script; this is a film to be enjoyed for the atmosphere and languid pacing rather than any plot driven devices.


In reality, this need not have been a film about vampires. It could have been about any rich, boho hipsters with family issues and a massive drug problem; the drug in this case just happens to be blood. Being around for centuries has meant these vampires have mastered the world of music, literature, science and language. This often makes them come across as pretentious cultural snobs, as Ava labels the two lovers. But I suppose if you have conquered all realms of culture you are somewhat entitled to be elitist. Jarmusch’s movies have often centred around despondent, cool figures. Yet in Only Lovers Left Alive he seems overly concerned with highlighting their inherent “coolness”, like when they wear biker gloves and sunglasses at night, even inside, for some unexplained reason.


The soundtrack is at the heart of the piece, taking influence from the underground rock scene of Detroit to traditional Moroccan music in Tangier, where the couple end up. Swinton outshines the rest of the cast as the tender, light-hearted lover to the artistically tortured Hiddleston, who seems to channel an angst-ridden Jim Morrison for his role.


If this is a Jim Jarmusch romance, then his love is directed toward music, literature and culture of bygone eras. However, a note in the end credits to his long-term partner Sara Driver could explain the heart at the centre of this story. Perhaps they’re the only two punks left on a planet over crowed with talentless celebrities. The world of Only  Lovers Left Alive creates a refuge from this place.

Deirdre Mc Mahon

15A (See IFCO for details)
122  mins

Only Lovers Left Alive is released on 21st February 2014














‘I Am Love’: An interview with Tilda Swinton and Luca Guadagnino

I Am Love

I Am Love is a lavish, sweeping melodrama that is as bold and romantic as its title suggests. It marks a reunion of sorts between Tilda Swinton and her director Luca Guadagnino, who worked together on his debut The Protaganists, as well as several shorts. Swinton plays Emma, the Russian wife of a wealthy Italian businessman. As the film begins, she is seemingly content in her surroundings; she has children who she loves dearly, more money than anyone could possibly spend and a fine social standing in upper class Italian society. When she finds out that her daughter is having a relationship with another woman, however, she finds herself on an accidental journey of self discovery and escape. This journey leads her into the arms of one of her son’s friends, a charming chef named Antonio. They begin an affair that will ultimately have shattering consequences for her family.

It’s a film that is unashamedly old-fashioned, soaked as it is in cinematic influences like Antonioni, Hitchcock and master of the classic Hollywood melodrama Douglas Sirk. Guadagnino describes himself as ‘a stalker of other people’s movies, and I enjoy very much a film where I can see a director working with the history of cinema’. Yet for all its classical romance, I Am Love also has a darker undercurrent; the camera may indulge in the extravagance of upper class Italian society, but it is also critical of it; there is an unspoken assumption that the family’s wealth is built upon exploitation, perhaps going as far back as Italian fascism. Guadagnino pretty much confirms this when he says ‘I believe very strongly, that a large amount of money in the hands of one or a few people is always the result of very dark lives’. It’s clear that this is a very modern critique of consumerism.

‘I’m very interested in this idea of the ultra ideology that capitalism is. It’s not true that we don’t live in the times of ideologies just because of the fall of the communist and socialist ideologies. I would say that we live in this ultra-ideological time, where capital is becoming more and more rotten and decadent, and aggressive. I do not believe that capital is key, it is in a way, irrelevant, even though it’s super-strong. I’m very interested to try and understand why people believe they are in need of things, in need of consumption.’ Emma’s efforts to transcend this, therefore, make her a very unusual sort of rebel. ‘Capitalism is all about making people live in denial of their emotions. With Emma, she is kind of the anti-capitalist, because she doesn’t need anything. Imagine if the majority of the people who continue to buy, buy, buy stopped their need to buy, this would be a sort of revolution. I’m looking forward to it!’

Swinton is one of the driving forces behind the film, acting as both the producer and the star. Guadagnino has nothing but good words to say about his collaborator. ‘We are working on about seven different projects together. To work with her is a pleasure, she’s a pal, so elegant and so beautiful and so inspiring to everyone around her.’ When asked if the two had any creative disagreements he simply shakes his head and responds with a smile – ‘Never.’

Speaking with Swinton, it’s easy to see why Guadagnino speaks so highly of her. Strikingly tall, elegant and articulate, she’s a rare actor who speaks more about the film as a whole rather than her place in it. She began by talking about the genesis of the film’s story.

Scott: I’ve heard that this is a project you’ve been working on for eleven years…

Tilda: Eleven years ago is when we started to talk about this kind of cinema, but we started talking about this particular story about seven years ago. We made a film called The Love Factory, which was an interview between us and we talked about love in that interview. Within that conversation we started to kick around the idea of love, and the revolution of love, and how radical an idea it is, and about what real love is, as opposed to some romantic contrived mechanism, and I suppose that’s where the story of I Am Love sort of began.

Which came first, the character or the story?

We wanted to make a film about a woman of a certain age and we wanted to look at the revolution of love. She had to be in a situation where love is an antagonistic thing, so we had to think about her as a sort of imported wife in a family in a very closed society. So what would that closed society be? Maybe some sort of high capitalism, these really particular grids, and so we began to think about the issue of love in that particular milieu. Real love as we think of it, as we define it, as I define it, is self revelation and unedited experience. And to a certain extent that can count as loneliness as well, so that what real love is when two people can say to each other ‘I’m lonely and I see your loneliness, and I’m not going to try and mess with it, so let’s just keep each other company.’ That is to my money so much more what real love is about than this romantic concept of ‘one-ness’, which is like editing sections of one person that don’t fit with the other. And in thinking of that milieu, that sort of high capitalist milieu, predicated on editing experiences, predicated on denial – particularly the rich, who have to put up smokescreens around how they got rich, and who they’re exploiting – so we imagined the kind of honesty bomb of love dropped into that milieu. And this is the way in which the story came about.

It’s a very old idea, someone trapped in a loveless marriage, and the film is very classical in lots of ways.

It’s almost a formalist film in a way. It’s inspired by a kind of classical cinema that we revere, but we also wanted to try and find a way to make it modern. But the truth is that milieu still goes on, and it is a modern story because it’s authentic. That class is built on an old model, it’s a very old idea, the idea of being rich.

There’s a lot of references to classic filmmakers – one of the smaller ones that I picked up on was the knot in Emma’s hair that recalls Kim Novak in Hitchcock’s Vertigo .

That’s not so subtle, actually, that was placed there very intentionally.

What other filmmakers influenced the film’s aesthetic?

The influences were manifold really, not only cinematic, like Hitchcock, Douglas Sirk, Scorsese, John Huston’s The Dead ; but also the whole idea of melodrama and the drama of the family table. We also looked at a lot of Russian novels, and I sometimes wonder if that wasn’t the original spark of the idea of Emma being Russian because we were reading a lot of Tolstoy. That whole idea of a kind of meticulousness – we never said it at the time, but I can say it with hindsight – we wanted to make a film in which somebody winding up the ribbon of an unwrapped present was as telling as some great speech. That’s the kind of cinema that we want to make, the cinema that’s about details, the way in which one can normally find that kind of license to be detailed in a novel, even in a modern novel. That’s something that doesn’t seem to have been lost in modern novels, but in modern cinema that kind of detail is really out of fashion, and normally people have to stand around talking about their lot and being very articulate about it.

It’s a very visual film, how does that kind of meticulousness affect you as an actor?

I’d already worked with the cinematographer [Yorick Le Saux] on a film called Julia, which was shot very differently, but in a very compatible way, in that it freed up performances to be behaviour, because there was nothing brittle around the frame…. That moment, with the ribbon, for example, was something that I just did, and he got it, and I remember at one point on the second or third take, and going to Luca, and suggesting that he ask Yorick to focus on my hand, but he had already caught it. Not every cinematographer would have looked for it and got it, and not many directors would have put it into the final cut, so that kind of grazing, that kind of detail, that kind of almost documentary spirit, was really important for us, because it broke up the theatrical nature of the story.

In this film, the visuals are incredibly important, but the language just as much, especially since you had to learn Italian for the role. Was that difficult?

Yes, but as Hitchcock said, the language, the dialogue, is just atmosphere. I think what we’re talking about is a cinema that is predicated on the probability that people are inarticulate. I think there’s a whole fashion for cinema to be very articulate and for people to be talking all the time and for people to be able to hear what they’re saying, to respond and express themselves. I think what we’re looking for is a cinematic landscape where people may operate together, in some kind of configuration as a family, or as a group, or as a class or whatever, but actually, they don’t necessarily say that much to each other, or that if they do say something, the things they say are not as important as the way they say it, or the fact that they’re saying it, or what they’re doing with their hands while they’re saying it. Language is not the only tool in the toolbox, it’s not the most important thing that people can do. I think that’s a really important point. In terms of my work in the film, Emma is not Italian, so she’s speaking a second language all her life. She speaks very little Russian, except to her oldest son. So that feeling of her being at one remove, almost alien, is very important.

Is that something you felt yourself on set?

Yes, in a sense, it’s something I know very well, that feeling. I understand a bit of Italian, so I’m not completely out of it. I was just talking earlier about how much there’s a kind of relaxation that comes over me when I go to Asia. I feel so foreign, it’s something I really enjoy, and it’s such a relief. Not being able to understand what people say is a great holiday for me.

Obviously, you’re the film’s producer, and you seem to be more interested in the film as a whole, the aesthetics, rather than simply your job as an actor…

Yes, but as I’ve said countless times today, if you don’t think of me as an actor you’ll find it easier to understand what I’m about.

Would you think of yourself more as an artist?

I’m a film fan… or an artist’s model. I’m sometimes in front of the camera and best known for being in front of the camera, let’s face it, but, generally speaking, I’m just trying to get films made.

And does the Oscar® help with that?

I don’t know for sure, but I’m not going to second guess it. Maybe, and I’m very grateful, but I’ll never know for sure if it helped get this film made. It might help us get it released, and they put it on the poster, so…

‘Academy® Award Winner Tilda Swinton’

It’s a brand, but I’m going to put it to good use and I’m not going to waste it, don’t worry.

Emma’s relationship with her daughter is an interesting one, as her own love story acts as the catalyst for her mother’s eventual escape…

Well, she leads her mother, I think Emma follows Elisabetta, and there’s something very touching about that, the way the mother follows the daughter’s liberation… Alba [Rohrwacher] is a wonderful Italian actress, she’s someone we knew anyway and we actually wrote that part for her because she and I work very well as mother and daughter… The film is not about a desperate housewife, it’s not about a woman who is unsatisfied at the start of the film, she’s perfectly satisfied. In fact, she’s very happy. It’s just that the depth charge hasn’t gone off yet.

It’s a theme you tend to revisit as an actress, particularly in Orlando – someone trying to escape other people’s perceptions.

This thing about transformation, when somebody has the opportunity to actually transform, and time and time again, particularly in these films that I generate myself, that’s a very, very repetitive theme tune – say, in Julia, or Orlando, or The Deep End, or in the film I’m just about to make with Lynne Ramsey… just about someone who takes what they have, either what they have projected onto them by society, or something that they’ve built themselves, and then they actively have to take it apart and rebuild it.

You clearly enjoy working with Luca, and even before the Oscar®, you’ve worked with some amazing directors – David Fincher, Spike Jonze, the Coens…Who else would you like to work with?

Oh, there are millions, so many I couldn’t even possibly start. It’s a really joyful part of my life, having conversations with these filmmakers, and getting work from them, and the greatest thing about everyone I’ve ever worked with is that they’re all film fans. That’s the common denominator with all these people I’ve ever worked with, whether it’s Béla Tarr, or Fincher, or Andrew Adamson, or Luca, they’re all crazed up film fans, and so am I. And there’s always more.

You’re next film is going to be an adaptation of We Need to Talk About Kevin (earlier at a public Q&A, the book came up and there was a collective gasp at the mention of the title.)

That’s a film we’ve been working on for a few years; it’s based on this book by Lionel Schriver. I’m so terrified by it… It is pretty strong stuff, and I think Lynne is the perfect person to make the film. I’m producing it as well, we’re going to shoot it in the spring. Who knows, maybe we’ll be here next year with it…

I Am Love is out at selected cinemas on April 9th.