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Critics reviews
Peterloo
Mike Leigh United Kingdom, 2018
Politicized language gives Peterloo epic stature — it’s a brilliant filmmaker’s version of the Tower of Babel noise in Armando Iannucci’s aggravating, TV-style The Death of Stalin. These characters convey the intellectual and emotional engine behind political movements.
April 05, 2019
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I wish the long-gestating dream had resulted in a better film. I don’t want to read too much into things that I only know second or third hand, but in a sense “Peterloo” shows the pitfalls of the dream project.
April 05, 2019
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Every so often, someone will remark that the time for talk is past, that what is needed now is action. But part of the argument of this brilliant and demanding film is that words are deeds, that language matters.
April 04, 2019
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Talk is the lifeblood of these characters, and they are revealed through their discourse. . . . It is hard to think of a contemporary filmmaker more dedicated than Leigh to examining different patterns of speech—different conversational cadences, accents, and vocabularies, with their telltale markers of about the background of the speaker, and their place in the British society that is Leigh’s subject.
April 04, 2019
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The climax, as Leigh stages it, is both horrifying and deeply moving. Peterlooshows what can happen when tyrants use brute force. It also proves the ineffectiveness of swords and bayonets, or their modern-day counterparts, in breaking the will of the people.
April 04, 2019
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Leigh is too shrewd to draw facile parallels between the democratic reforms called for by his characters and the struggles of today; the theatrical process of political dialogue itself is what really engages him.
March 01, 2019
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On top of the mustache-twirling, Leigh coarsens his storytelling to remove ambiguity: character is conveyed via TV-style shorthand; sympathetic characters foreshadow the coming catastrophe; the historical context is signposted in the dialogue. And yet the film is still deeply impressive, with more evidence of Leigh’s greatness than any of his films since Vera Drake (2004).
September 17, 2018
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There’s something missing here, a spark of zeal and immediacy to the depiction of anti-democratic atrocity, which in turn saps the film of its intended sense of outrage and urgency.
September 10, 2018
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Whatever you think of Leigh as a filmmaker, he’s always had a way with actors, but what’s perhaps most shocking about Peterloo is how consistently awful and stilted his performers enact reams of dialogue—players stuck in a bad museum piece with no way out.
September 08, 2018
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Hopes are high—and Leigh’s treatment of the protest’s wrenching aftermath devastatingly concise.
September 05, 2018
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Mike Leigh’s film is a powerful blunt weapon, hitting back for the people who refused to. Peterloo is the cudgel that the demonstrators themselves refused to carry.
September 02, 2018
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The result somewhat resembles the Soviet Socialist Realist films of the 1930s and 1940s. . . . Not that there’s anything wrong with that, exactly, but the Soviet films seldom tried for actual realism, and Leigh cannot entirely give up his passion for naturalism. The result is an uneasy mixture in Peterloo’s tone. Despite its faults, the film is impressive.
September 02, 2018
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