Empire of Light is a British drama directed, written, and co-produced by Sam Mendes. This drama is set in an English coastal town in the early 1980s and tells about the power of human connection during turbulent times. Aside from Olivia Coleman being one of the greatest actresses of our time, I also liked the trailer, which made me want to see this movie. I thought the film was well done.
Hilary Small (Olivia Coleman) works as a duty manager at the “Empire Cinema”, Margate, on the north coast of Kent, England. Hilary struggles with bipolar disorder and lives alone. She has been prescribed lithium by her doctor and is having extramarital sex with her boss Donald Ellis (Colin Firth). A new employee, who is a British Black man, Stephen (Michael Ward) comes on board at the Margate cinema. Stephen lives with his mother Delia (Tanya Moodie) who works as a nurse. Hilary and Stephen begin a relationship. The pair find it difficult to deal with the racism Stephen experiences from some locals, as well as Hilary’s past relationships.
Empire of Light is a well-acted and profound story with a message that doesn’t seem to have a resolution. It’s sad that we are still dealing with racism in 2023 but it is forever present in today’s society. Mental illness is also more prevalent than ever. One is nobody’s fault however there are meds and therapists that can control the situation and the other is a fixed opinion that one could rid themself of if one really wanted to. Olivia Coleman always gives a riveting performance in her films and many have been nominated for the coveted Oscar award. The story takes a surprising turn revealing much to many of its characters and audience. Empire of Light is probably not for everyone as there is sex, violence, and profanity, but all tastefully done. Colman was critical of the sex scenes that made it into the final cut of the film. She believed they were unnecessary to advance the plot. It’s a story well told with amazing cinematography features.
As of January 2023, Empire of Light grossed $1,177,577 (21%) DOMESTIC, $4,424,014 (79%) INTERNATIONAL, for a total of $5,601,591 WORLDWIDE.
On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 44%, based on 212 reviews, with an average rating of 5.7/10. The site’s critic’s consensus reads: “Empire of Light contains some fine performances and a few flashes of brilliance, but this tribute to the magic of cinema is disappointingly mundane.” While I disagree with the Rotten Tomatoes critic’s consensus, I recommend Empire of Light which is currently showing in limited theaters and streaming on HBO MAX with a subscription and for sale on Prime Video ($14.99) – Check It Out!
[EMPIRE OF LIGHT is Oscar-nominated for Best Cinematography at the 95th Academy Awards for a total of 1 nomination]
I was noting this movie just today for a near-future viewing. Ms. Coleman in indeed a GREAT actress. I loved the Broadchurch series on ITV. The Audience Score on Rotten for Empire is 74% on 50 reviews, and I often give the audience as much or more weight as the critics. Kudos on a thorough review.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Thank you for your comments. I find most critics to be way too harsh. I’m not sure what they’re trying to find.
LikeLiked by 1 person