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Click

Michael Newman (Adam Sandler) is an harassed father of two, trying to please his wife Donna (Kate Beckinsale).  After an argument about how many remote controls they have, Michael bumps into Morty (Christopher Walken), a scientist who gives him a universal remote that will allow anything to be controlled at a touch of a button.  This includes gaining the upper hand over his boss Mr Ammer (David Hasselhoff).  Despite having his life at his fingertips however, Michael soon faces up to his selfishness and learns the value of ‘the small moments’ in life.
Adam Sandler has carved out a successful career out of playing social misfits who try to fit into normal life.  This time, his character is an outcast in his own family, with his work and general selfishness causing him to drift further away from them.  Sandler’s acting maturity continues with this film, giving his central role genuine depth that was missing in his earlier work.  The Frank Capra-esque influence in the screenplay is a perfect match for Sandler’s newfound acting skills.  His films have received mixed reaction from audiences, with this one overall being one of his better ones.
The fine performances of the actors all mix great comedic timing with pathos.  Kate Beckinsale forms a good partnership with Sandler, creating a believability to her sympathetic housewife.  Christopher Walken clearly enjoys his monovalent role, becoming more ominous with each appearance.  David Hasselhoff manages to make his acting on Baywatch seem like a bad memory, and delivers a more restrained performance than usual.  Henry Winkler also appears as Michael’s father, who provides a catalyst for him to change his ways.  Winkler is a very fine actor, and provides the film with a lot of its heart.
Amidst all of the expected Sandler slapstick, the film does have a serious message underneath the surface.  By letting technological gadgets control his life, Michael misses out on the human interaction, and becomes more of a machine than the gadgets he has come to despise.  The comedy is evenly spread throughout the film, becoming more darkly satirical as it goes on. 
This is a well made comedy that further develops Sandler’s everyman persona.  The performances are well balanced, with the comedy not overshadowing the points the film tries to make.  Despite the misleading advertising which indicates another brainless comedy, Click provides thoughtful entertainment amongst the well timed gags.
Rating out of 10:   6

Separate Lies

When their housekeeper’s husband is killed in a hit and run accident, James & Anne Manning have no idea the effect that this will cause.  James (Tom Wilkinson) is a successful businessman who loves his wife Anne (Emily Watson).  But when the accident occurs, hidden secrets between them come to the surface.  As they try to unmask the driver, the idyllic mask they wore during their marriage slowly disappears to reveal their true feelings.  Mixed into this drama is Bill Bule (Rupert Everett), a mild mannered aristocrat who unwittingly holds the key to the couple’s salvation.
Writer/Director Julian Fellowes neatly unthreads the layers of deception created by the flawed characters.  James is an emotionally stilted man who cares deeply for Anne in his own way, but keeps on testing her commitment to their marriage.  Tom Wilkinson perfectly embodies the reserved manner in which James carries out his activities, and how his organised life comes crumbling down.  The audience goes with his journey as he weaves through the web of lies that the accident exposes.
Emily Watson is excellent as Anne, a woman tortured by her conscience.  Her belief in doing the right thing nearly tears her apart, but it also shines a light on how she sees herself and the marriage.  Both she and Wilkinson provide the audience with rich performances, with their characters eventually discovering a truthful plateau on which they can finally communicate.    Rupert Everett injects a charming veneer to his role, with his character flitting in and out of their lives, which gradually decreases the chasm created between them.
This is a very well crafted study of morality and deception slowly uncovering the true feelings of its characters.  The remote village that they live in mirrors their own personal remoteness.  Secrets from the past and its effect on present day life is explored, as is the notion of what people would sacrifice in the name of love.  The mystery of the accident is a prelude to the greater dramatic landscape that unfolds, which becomes more compelling than the initial plot device.
The sumptuous scenery on display adds immeasurably to the story, adding its own layer to proceedings.  The tightly written screenplay offers up many thought provoking issues, with the distinguished actors providing classy performances.  An excellent directing debut for Fellowes, that utilises every frame of its brisk running time.
Rating out of 10:   7
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