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Posts Tagged ‘Abbie Cornish’

Anson Mount

“THE VIRTUOSO” My rating: B- (In theaters)

110 minutes | MPAA rating: R

The hit man movie occupies a curious corner of the noir world. Invariably these efforts center on a ruthlessly efficient killer who finds himself emotionally involved with a target, experiencing twinges of guilt or generally questioning his choice of professions.

 Nick Stagliano’s “The Virtuoso” works a couple of intriguing variations on the usual setup.

The first and most interesting is voiceover narration that dispassionately describes the daily workings of a professional killer. This narration is provided by leading man Anson Mount, and compensates for the fact that on screen his character says almost nothing. So it’s kind of neat that we get to hear his thoughts as he goes about his deadly business.

“You’re a professional devoted to timing and precision. A virtuoso,” our antihero (identified only as the Virtuoso) offers.

Truth is, the Virtuoso appears to be a mystery even to himself. He lives in an isolated cabin. He seems to have no friends or acquaintances apart from the Mentor (Anthony Hopkins), who farms out contracts to our man and other pro killers. He doesn’t even have a pet, although from time to time he sets out a bowl of kibble for the feral dog that lives among the trees.

Early on the Virtuoso executes a murder, but there is collateral damage in the person of an innocent bystander. Apparently for the first time he feels remorse for killing…indeed, he is so unnerved by the experience that the Mentor — who normally communicates only by phone — shows up in person to check on his charge’s emotional state and to give a long graveyard monologue about how he and the Virtuoso’s father served together on an assassination squad in Vietnam. (This is about as much background as we’ll get on our leading character.)

Anthony Hopkins

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George MacKay, Amanda Stenberg

“WHERE HANDS TOUCH”  My rating: C

122 minutes | MPAA rating: PG-13

Initially intriguing but ultimately ineffective, “Where Hand Touch” is an odd blend of “Romeo and Juliet” romance and “Pianist”-style Holocaust horror.

Its heart is in the right place. Alas, good intentions aren’t enough.

While the film mines a real-life situation rarely recognized by the arts or the history books — the plight under the Nazis of mixed-blood Germans whose mothers were Aryan  and fathers African — “Where Hands Touch” is tough going. And not just because of the downbeat subject matter.

Writer/director Amma Assante rarely opts for subtlety when a heavy hand can be employed. The result is a film that, in theory anyway, should move us deeply.  Except that it doesn’t.

Sixteen-year-old Lenya (Amanda Sternberg) comes to Berlin with her mother (a dowdied-down Abbie Cornish) and little brother (Tom Sweet) in the hopes of becoming lost. Back in their provincial burg the authorities are looking for Jews and mixed-race children. Perhaps Lenya, whose father was an African soldier with the occupying French at the end of WWI, can hide her racial heritage among the city’s masses.

The irony here is that Lenya considers herself 100 percent German…and so does the law, which defines citizenship as being passed down from mother to child.  But mixed-race children are widely viewed as a blemish on the Reich, so Lenya must be very careful where she goes and who she sees.

It’s a small miracle, then, when she is befriended by Lutz (George MacKay), a blonde Hitler Youth who is not only prejudice free but romantically taken with his exotic new neighbor.

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