Cliff Curtis finally gets a leading role, Eric Bana battles demons and Gabriel Byrne finds romance in Paris at the movies this weekend.
THE DARK HORSE (M, 124mins, ★★★★1/2)
Genesis Potini lived with a bi-polar disorder that saw him hospitalised many times, and he came from a family with strong gang affiliations. But somehow, the chaos that afflicted his brain found room for a fantastic gift for chess, which Genesis honed until he could hold his own with some of the best in the country. In 2002, Jim Marbrook (Mental Notes) put together a terrific documentary on Genesis. That film - Dark Horse - introduced a lot of New Zealanders to Genesis' story, and now it has led directly to this absolutely stunning feature film. As Genesis, Cliff Curtis gives the performance of his career so far. With a smart and compassionate script, an exceptionally well-put together soundtrack, and a deft hand in the editing suite, The Dark Horse shines. This is an instant New Zealand classic. Go see it. GT
Deliver Us From Evil (R16, 118 mins, ★★)
Writer-director Scott Derrickson has adapted the novel of this true story, and having dabbled already in exorcism movies (The Exorcism of Emily Rose), he's clearly in his element. He certainly knows how to craft the aesthetic - darkness and heavy rain paint it atmospheric throughout. However, lethargic editing in some key scenes lets down the tension, and jump-scares are frequently undercut by the missing of a beat. The couple of genuinely scary moments are undermined by a ridiculous night-time caper in a zoo and some heavy signposting, while Bana's acting becoming more OTT as the minutes pass towards an underwhelming finale. SW
JUST A SIGH (M, 101 mins, ★★★1/2)
In which Gabriel Byrne, once again displaying that peculiar lack of charisma that has no place in a man who looks like Bryan Ferry's roguish big brother, finds himself cast as the lugubrious Irish eye-candy opposite Emmanuelle Devos' frustrated and mildly unhinged middle-aged actress. They meet on a train. Byrne asks Devos for directions to a church, and she takes that as invitation to follow him there after she escapes her disspiriting audition. Just a Sigh only founders when writer/director Jerome Bonnell asks his characters to do too much. In its quieter moments, especially when revelling in the ferociously good work of Devos, the film is an understated, and very French, gem. GT