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The Roads Not Taken review – painful chapters in writer’s life | Drama films

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Sally Potter’s The Roads Not Taken is a sad, painful, self-conscious vignette of a film with forthright performances; it’s a chamber piece in many ways, but with bold flashback excursions that come close to causing its emotional engine to overheat.

Javier Bardem plays Leo, a writer in New York who has suffered a stroke and now lives, by choice, in a grim single room, attended by a carer, Xenia (Branka Katic). The only person who still appears to love him is his daughter, Molly (Elle Fanning), who one chaotic day has to take him to the dentist and optician, while dealing (via her cellphone) with a stressful work situation.

Meanwhile, Leo is plagued with memories of tragedy back in Mexico with his first love, Dolores (Salma Hayek), and also with a nervous breakdown he appears to have had in his later married life when Molly was a baby – perhaps the origin of his current state. He was spending time on a Greek island, theoretically working on a book, but really in retreat from his new American family, and he became entranced there by a beautiful young woman (Katia Mullova-Brind) – a dangerous, vivid epiphany that in his stricken state he cannot explain or express to Molly, however much he wants to and however desperate she is to understand him.

This is a fervent performance from Bardem whose great, bull-like head, pulsing with contained spiritual pain, looms out of the screen. He is the paterfamilias, the sacred monster who exasperates and captivates his daughter and also his ex-wife – a peppery, unsympathetic cameo for Laura Linney. (Surely it can’t be long before Bardem plays Picasso?)

The film seems sometimes to be reaching for ideas and moods that it cannot fully encompass, but I loved the rapport between Fanning and Bardem, especially when Leo mortifyingly has an accident at the dentist. Molly lends him her own trousers (she herself is wearing a long coat) and buys them both a matching pair of purple jeans from a discount store.

• The Roads Not Taken is in cinemas.

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Actors Filming Sex Scenes Stories Movies/TV Shows

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The romantic drama Carol — starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara — was released in 2015 to critical acclaim and sparked a big conversation on the importance of telling celebratory love stories between women. While promoting the movie, the two actors were constantly asked how they developed their dynamic onscreen chemistry — specifically for their sex scenes.

At BFI London’s Film Festival, Mara explained that chemistry isn’t just something you can rehearse: “It was easy for me to feel chemistry towards Cate not only because, you know, she’s Cate, but [because] my character spent much of the film in awe of this woman and enamored with her — that was very easy for me to embody.” She went on to say that she immediately felt comfortable working with Blanchett while filming their sex scene in the hotel, and that “she’s a very generous actor [who’s] very alive and in the moment.”

Blanchett and Mara’s sex scene was one of the first they filmed for Carol, and they spent two weeks rehearsing before laying everything out on set. Blanchett revealed in a Q&A once the two actors got on set, they learned there were bed bugs in the hotel room — so initially, it was a difficult day shooting in the nude. But, ultimately, Blanchett thought it was a moving experience. “The consummation of their relationship is really important,” Blanchett told BFI London. “We talked about the scene, and there’s a great sense of trust between Rooney and I.”

Blanchett went on to describe how powerful it was to film the love scene with Mara because of how isolated both of their characters were in the film leading up to the moment. She said: “They go through a lot of processing these volcanic feelings independent upon one another, so frankly, it was a relief to do these scenes with Rooney. It’s like: ‘Finally, we get to — you know — be together.'”


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Design Your Dream Wedding And We'll Give You A Zac Efron Character To Match

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Which Marvel Villain Do You Embody Based On The Way You Design Your Day?

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Come on, you know you’re a little evil inside…

What time are you waking up?

What’s for breakfast?

What are you doing for the day?

Drinks?

What for lunch?

What TV show are you watching?

What are you having for dinner?

Now what’s for dessert?

And now what time are you going to bed?

Time for a midnight snack

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