Posts Tagged ‘Rachel Portman’


March 10, 2022 Leave a comment


Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Where Angels Fear to Tread was one of several cinematic adaptations of novels by the British writer E. M. Forster in the 1980s and early 1990s, the others being A Passage to India, A Room With a View, and Howard’s End. Like all of Forster’s work it is a scathing examination of the British class system, its rigid mores and morals, and how those formal rules butt up against the passions bubbling underneath the proverbial stiff upper lips. This film adaptation is directed by Charles Sturridge and stars Helen Mirren as Lilia, a recent widow who travels from London to Tuscany in 1905 with her young companion Caroline (Helena Bonham-Carter). Shockingly, Lilia falls in love with a handsome and roguish Italian named Gino (Giovanni Guidelli), marries him, and falls pregnant, much to the dismay of her conservative and status-obsessed siblings (Rupert Graves and Judy Davis) back in England. As the two halves of the family fight over Lilia’s perceived unsuitable relationship, especially as it relates to the future of her unborn child, the disagreements quickly turn to tragedy for all involved. The title comes from the famous line in Alexander Pope’s 1711 poem ‘An Essay on Criticism’: for fools rush in where angels fear to tread. Read more…

JULIA – Rachel Portman

December 17, 2021 1 comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

There are so many cookery shows, chef competitions, and other food-related programs on American television these days that there are entire channels dedicated to the genre, but as wide and broad as they are they can all trace their lineage back to one person: Julia Child. It was she who basically introduced the concept of French haute cuisine to the American public following the publication of her first book, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, in 1961, which in turn led to her first appearances on television in the mid-1960s. Through the 1970s and 1980s she was the pre-eminent TV cooking personality in the country, and her way of cooking food influenced generations of home chefs and restauranteurs alike. A dramatic film about her life, Julie & Julia, was released in 2009 with Meryl Streep playing Child, but this new film Julia is a straightforward biographical documentary. It is directed by Julie Cohen and Betsy West, with Brian Grazer and Ron Howard as executive producers, and has an original score by Rachel Portman. Read more…

GODMOTHERED – Rachel Portman

December 15, 2020 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Disney’s recent trend of slightly subverting their own storybook tropes continues in Godmothered, their latest family film. Directed by Sharon Maguire, who previously helmed Bridget Jones’s Diary, it stars Jillian Bell as Eleanor, a trainee fairy godmother who feels that the traditional roles they play are becoming outdated as nobody makes wishes any more. Seeking to change things for the better – and save the godmother school from closure – Eleanor travels to the ‘real world’ to grant the wishes of a 10-year-old girl named Mackenzie; however, upon arriving in contemporary Boston, Eleanor discoveres that Mackenzie is now a jaded and miserable 40-year-old single mother of two, with a job she hates and seemingly no romantic prospects. Despite this apparent setback, Eleanor decides to help Mackenzie anyway, and starts to insert herself into her life – with predictably hilarious and terrible results. The film co-stars Isla Fisher, Santiago Cabrera, Jane Curtin, and June Squibb, and was supposed to be one of Disney’s main Christmas releases for 2020 but – like so many others – it fell victim to the COVID-19 pandemic, and was sent straight-to-streaming on Disney+ in early December. Read more…

THEIR FINEST – Rachel Portman

April 25, 2017 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

In the 1940s, at the height of World War II, the British Ministry of Information made numerous morale-boosting propaganda films intended to help raise the spirits of the public during the time of the Blitz and the Battle of Britain, extolling the bravery and sacrifice of the lads fighting Nazis the overseas. Their Finest, which is directed by Lone Scherfig from a novel by Lissa Evans, is a comedy-drama which recounts the fictional creation of one of these films from the point of view of Catrin Cole, an aspiring young writer-director whose talents are being squandered by the Ministry because of her gender. The film stars Gemma Arterton as Catrin, Bill Nighy as the star of the film Ambrose Hillard, features Sam Claflin, Jack Huston, Helen McCrory, and Eddie Marsan in supporting roles, and has a score by that most English of film composers, Rachel Portman. Read more…

RACE – Rachel Portman

April 1, 2016 Leave a comment

raceOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

Jesse Owens is generally considered to be one of the greatest American track and field athletes in history. Born in Alabama in 1913, Owens suffered as a result of the racist and segregationist political climate that all African-Americans endured at that time, but it was his athletic prowess that brought him fame. He broke three world records in less than an hour while competing for Ohio State University at a meet in Michigan in 1935, and subsequently represented the United States at the 1936 Summer Olympic Games in Berlin. In open defiance of German chancellor Adolf Hitler, who intended to use the games as a showpiece to promote his philosophy of Aryan physical perfection, Owens won four gold medals in the 100m, 200m, 4x100m relay, and long jump, cementing his place in sporting history. Director Stephen Hopkins’s film Race – a multi-meaning title if ever there was one – is a fairly straightforward biopic of Owens’s life, starring Stephan James, Jason Sudeikis, Jeremy Irons, William Hurt, and Carice van Houten. Read more…

BEL AMI – Lakshman Joseph de Saram and Rachel Portman

July 23, 2012 10 comments

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Bel Ami is a historical romantic drama based on the 1885 novel by Guy de Maupassant. Directed by Declan Donnellan and Nick Ormerod, the film is set in Paris in the late 1880s and stars Robert Pattinson as the amoral Georges Duroy, a journalist for the newspaper La Vie Française, who rises from being a junior officer in the French Army in Algeria, to being one of the most powerful and influential men in the city, which he achieves by manipulating a series of well-connected, intelligent, and wealthy mistresses. The film also stars Uma Thurman, Kristin Scott Thomas and Christina Ricci as the women Duroy takes advantage of – both morally, socially and sexually – as he makes his ascent through the decadent world of the rich and the privileged. The film’s equally rich and decadent score is by Lakshman Joseph de Saram and Rachel Portman, who share composing duties equally between them. Read more…

THE DUCHESS – Rachel Portman

September 19, 2008 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The Duchess is what’s known colloquially in Britain as a ‘bodice-ripper’ – a period drama with strong romantic and sexual overtones, in which the corset-clad leading lady is repeatedly ravished by a previously refined gentleman, much to the collective outrage of the aristocracy. Keira Knightly plays the lady in question: Georgiana, the real life 18th century Duchess of Devonshire, who was reviled for her extravagant political and personal life. The film, which was directed by Saul Dibb, also stars Ralph Fiennes, Charlotte Rampling, Dominic Cooper and Hayley Atwell, and features a new original score by the Queen of the English Costume Drama, Rachel Portman. Read more…


August 8, 2008 Leave a comment

Original Review by Clark Douglas

Once upon a time, four teenage girls shared a pair of pants over the course of one memorable summer. Now they’re a little older and a little wiser, they’re starting to fall in love and discover new things, and they’re taking turns wearing the pants again. Yes, it’s called “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2.” Bearing that in mind, it’s not surprise to discover that the score has been provided by Rachel Portman, who is drawn to romantic movies like a paper clip to a magnet. Even so, I found the choice of Portman to be a particularly disappointing one in this case. The first film was scored by the perpetually overlooked Cliff Eidelman, whose pleasant music served the film well. Read more…

OLIVER TWIST – Rachel Portman

September 23, 2005 Leave a comment

olivertwistOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

There have been dozens of cinematic versions of Oliver Twist over the years, from the earliest days of Hollywood, to David Lean’s 1948 classic with Alec Guinness and music by Sir Arnold Bax, and the beloved 1968 Lionel Bart musical starring Ron Moody and Oliver Reed. Almost the last person you would expect to make one is Roman Polanski, but make one he has – this time featuring the talents of Ben Kingsley as Fagin, the relatively unknown Jamie Foreman as Bill Sikes, and the totally unknown Barney Clark in the title role. For those who have never seen any of the screen versions, or read Charles Dickens’ classic 1838 novel, about a young orphan boy in a workhouse in London who, having had the temerity to ask for “more food”, is thrown out onto the streets. There he meets a young tearaway known as The Artful Dodger (Harry Eden), the leader of a gang of child pickpockets overseen by the nefarious Fagin, who keeps the ragamuffins fed and clothed in exchange for a home. Read more…


November 3, 2000 Leave a comment

legendofbaggervanceOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

With increasing frequency, British composer Rachel Portman is finding herself being asked to score films with “Academy potential”. After her award-winning turn on Emma in 1995, which secured her status in history as the first woman to win a composing Oscar, the undisputed queen of film music has scored such acclaimed movies as Marvin’s Room, Beloved, and last year’s successful drama The Cider House Rules, cementing her status as a member of Hollywood’s A-list. Her latest assignment is The Legend of Bagger Vance, a tale of life, love, and the open fairway which seeks to do for golf what Field of Dreams did for baseball, directed by Robert Redford from the novel by Steven Pressfield. It stars Matt Damon, Will Smith and Charlize Theron, and tells the story of Adele Invergordon (Theron), who inherits her late father’s golf resort in late 1920s Savannah, Georgia. In order to get rid of some of the debts, she decides stages a celebrity golf tournament at the course, and invites three of the state’s top players, one of whom is Rannulph Junuh (Damon), her one-time beau and a former top pro who retuned from the war a drunken, shell-shocked, broken man. Initially reluctant to start swinging the clubs again, Junuh unexpectedly finds himself receiving encouragement from the mysterious Bagger Vance (Smith), who offers to be his caddy in exchange for a mere $5, and begins to impart to Junuh all the wisdom he possesses about life, love and golf. Read more…


December 10, 1999 Leave a comment

ciderhouserulesOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

Considering that the screen versions of the majority of John Irving’s novels have been largely fluffed (Simon Birch, The World According to Garp), it is immensely encouraging to hear that Lasse Hallström’s version of The Cider House Rules is well in the running for being voted the best film of 1999. Set in a New England orphanage, the film stars Tobey Maguire as a young orphan named Homer who lives under the care and tutelage of kindly gynecologist Dr. Larch (Michael Caine). When Homer decides that he wants to experience the world outside the orphanage walls, he hooks up with a young married couple, Wally (Paul Rudd) and Candy (Charlize Theron), who run an apple farm. However, when Wally joins up for service and Homer and Candy are left alone, things begin to develop between the two. Read more…