Stay-at-Home Seven - November 20 to 26

Films to stream or catch on TV this week

by Amber Wilkinson

Denise Gough and Keira Knightley in Colette
Denise Gough and Keira Knightley in Colette Photo: Bleeker Street
Colette, 11.15pm, BBC2, Monday, November 20

Wash Westmoreland's film about the Belle Époque writer follows her on her journey to liberation from her naive provincial upbringing. She begins to blossom as her books about saucy schoolgirl Claudine - sold under the name of her husband Willy (Dominic West) start to fly off the shelves. There's an engaging complexity to the relationship between Willy and Colette which twists as the film progresses. Denise Gough also puts in a scene-stealing supporting performance as Missy, with whom Colette engages in a same-sex relationship. Beyond the impressive performances, the period is beautifully rendered and despite the film's consideration of ownership, oppression and control ultimately plays like a celebration of freedom of thought. Read what Westmoreland had to say about the influence of Max OphülsLa Belle Époque and on the relationships in Colette.

Love & Mercy, 11.15pm, BBC2, Tuesday, November 21

Unfolding over two time periods, Bill Pohland's impressively balanced biopic of Beach Boy Brian Wilson, considers the moment in his youth when, played by Paul Dano, he was taking the pop world by storm with Good Vibrations and Pet Sounds alongside a later snapshot of his life, incarnated by John Cusack, as an overmedicated shadow of his former self who offers a written cry for help to a car saleswoman (Elizabeth Banks). The young and old versions of Brian are joined by creativity and though the film doesn't shy away from the darker side of his life it also celebrates the joy that came to him via music. Giamatti, uncharacteristically, overdoes things a bit as a bad guy doc but for the most part this is a restrained and well-acted study of a man working his way back to some sort of happiness.

Planes, Trains and Automobiles, 9pm, Film4, Thursday, November 23

Perfectly timed to coincide with Thanksgiving, this warm-hearted road trip comedy is just the ticket if you're looking to get in the mood for Christmas. Steve Martin and John Candy are the perfect pairing as Neal Page and Del Griffith, two men who meet as they're heading home for Turkey Day. A classic mismatched pairing - Del is a slob who just wants to be loved while Neal views the other man as little more than a means to an end, with John Hughes carefully shifting our sympathies - they find themselves hitting the road after a snowstorm, leading to an all-you-can eat buffet of comic complications. There's more going on than comedy, however, as Hughes dresses the humour with all the sort of feel-good trimmings people look for at this time of year.

My Feral Heart, 11.15pm, BBC2, Thursday, November 23

A multifaceted and warm character study of caregiver Luke (Stephen Brandon), who has been looking after his mum and who finds his world changing completely after her death. Luke has Down's syndrome - but the film shows this is just one element of who he is, even if it is the reason why he finds himself uprooted from the life he has known and placed in a group home. Gull and scriptwriter Duncan Paveling are out to challenge preconceptions here - not just those of the viewer, who may well hold stereotypical view of those with Down's syndrome that is a long way from reality, but for their central character, who discovers that his prejudice against the home may also not be entirely justified. Luke's perspective is placed front and centre so we see events through his eyes, as he struggles with grief, forms a friendship with a man (Will Ralstall) carrying out community service at the home and comes across a feral young girl (Pixie Le Knot). Brandon, in his first role, captures perfectly the emotional tug-of-war between Luke's grief and his naturally easygoing personality, while Ralstall also brings his character's internal conflict to the fore.  Read what Gull told us about getting to the heart of the story.

The Dive, Netflix, from Thursday, November 23

When two sisters go for their annual dive they get a lot more than they bargained for in Maximilian Erlenwein's pulse-pounding thriller. Drew (Sophie Lowe) and May (Louisa Krause) are experienced divers but after a rockfall they find themselves in a serious predicament. With the more confident May trapped, Drew has to summon all her reserves to try to rescue her sibling before May's oxygen tank empties. Erlenwein piles on the literal and figurative pressure and keeps his threats serious and realistic, which makes Drew's race against time all the more gripping. The back story is a bit surplus to requirements but Erlenwein's pace packs a punch.

Petite Maman, 12.55am, Film4, Friday, November 24

Celine Sciamma's short but perfectly formed fable comes at its story from a child's perspective. After Nelly's grandma dies, the eight-year-old goes with her mum Marion (Nina Meurisse) to help clear her gran's house. There, while out in the woods, she comes across a young girl of the same age... whose name also happens to be Marion and who, it seems, lives in the same house, although a different route is taken to it. Stitched carefully together by mutual understanding, this is time travel at its most subtle, as Sciamma explores parent and child bonds, while also celebrating the energy and acceptance of childhood. Like her earlier film Tomboy, it's filled with perfect shared moments - from the children (played by twins (Joséphine and Gabrielle Sange) messily making crepes or sharing their hopes and fears to Nelly nibbling on a cheese puff like a rabbit, while occasionally feeding her mum one as she drives the car. This is a film full of autumnal colour and that feels built entirely from love.

Belfast, Netflix, from Saturday, November 25

There's another child's eye view offered in Kenneth Branagh's semi-autobiographical  Belfast. He transports us to the city in the late Sixties as his tale of childhood unfolds against the rise of what would become known as The Troubles. Child star Jude Hill marks himself out as a young name to watch in the role of Buddy, whose everyday concerns about getting a local Catholic lass to notice him and contending with the domestic tensions of his ma (Caitriona Balfe) and pa (Jamie Dornan), are set against the wider picture of a community that is beginning to fracture. Branagh knows how to leaven sentiment with a good dollop of humour, much of it delivered with verve by Ciaran Hinds and Judi Dench as Buddy's grandparents. Throughout it all, Branagh reminds us that love will always be stronger than hate.

You'll have to pop across to Vimeo and log in to watch this week's short, which is Sight by Thirza Cuthand, which offers a meditation on blindness based on the filmmaker's experience.

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