Deborah Ross

Deborah Ross is the chief film critic of The Spectator

Made me laugh for all the wrong reasons: Allelujah reviewed

Allelujah, based on the stage play by Alan Bennett, is set in a geriatric ward in a Yorkshire hospital and has a stellar cast: Jennifer Saunders, Derek Jacobi, David Bradley, Julia McKenzie, Lorraine Ashbourne, Dame Judi Dench – but not Dame Maggie Smith, inexplicably. Maybe she missed the call. It’s directed by Richard Eyre and

So formulaic I could have written it: Champions reviewed

Champions is an underdog sports movie starring Woody Harrelson as a baseball coach forced to take on a team with intellectual disabilities. But the main thing you need to know is it is so formulaic I could have written it, you could have written it, it could have written itself. Heck, it’s so predictable it

Devastating: Close reviewed

The Belgian film Close, written and directed by Lukas Dhont, which won the Grand Prix at Cannes and is up for an Oscar, is a coming-of-age-story that’s exquisite and heart-breaking. Take tissues, and probably not just the one box. I was deeply touched by their little white vests, purchased no doubt from the Belgian equivalent

The bear overacts the least: Cocaine Bear reviewed

With a title like Cocaine Bear you’ll probably be happily anticipating one of those B-movie cultural moments. It’s a bear! On cocaine! Sign me up! You go to a film like this in the spirit of trash-loving glee. It’ll be fun. It’ll be 90 minutes of low camp entertainment rather than a four-hour Oscar-contending head-scratcher

Much more gripping than it sounds: Women Talking reviewed

Women Talking, which has received Oscar nominations for best picture and adapted screenplay, is one of those films that, on paper, is a hard sell. It is women talking, and talking and talking, after enduring the most horrifying experience at the hands of men. All of which sounds barely cinematic and even less entertaining. But

Both compelling and repulsive: The Whale reviewed

I can’t work out if Darren Aronofsky’s The Whale, which stars Brendan Fraser as a man weighing 600lb – that’s 42 stone in real money – is ‘abhorrently cruel’, as some have said, or a film of ‘rare compassion’, as others have said. Either way, it is compelling, although whether that’s for the right reasons

Cheesy but full of love: The Fabelmans reviewed

There can’t be anyone anywhere who hasn’t somehow been touched by a Steven Spielberg film. Some of us, for example, haven’t  dipped their toe into the sea for going on 40 years now. (Thanks for that, Jaws.) He has thus surely earned the right to finally turn the camera on himself, as he does with

Formulaic and untrue: Bank of Dave reviewed

Bank of Dave is the ‘true(ish)’ story, as this puts it, of Dave Fishwick, the Burnley businessman who wanted to set up a high street bank to help the local community. He was, Fishwick said in a recent interview, at home when the call came from Piers Ashworth in LA. ‘He’s the writer of Mission

Riveting: Tár reviewed

Todd Field’s Tár stars an insanely glorious Cate Blanchett – if she doesn’t win an Oscar I’ll eat my hat – as a world-famous orchestral conductor about to record Mahler’s Fifth Symphony. There is also Elgar’s Cello Concerto in this film, and a bit of Bach, but it’s not about music. To say it’s about

The Spectator’s best films of 2022

Banshees of Inisherin: a magnificent cinematic metaphor The In Bruges writer-director Martin McDonagh has made another film starring Colin Farrell and Brendon Gleeson which, this time, is set in 1923 on the tiny Irish island of Inisherin. Colm (Gleeson) and Padraic (Farrell) are lifelong pals and drinking buddies until Colm abruptly decides that’s it, friendship over, and

Mesmerisingly sad: Corsage reviewed

Corsage is a biopic of Empress Elisabeth of Austria who was prized for her beauty and fashion sense and may have been, I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to say, the Princess Diana of her day. But then disaster strikes: she turns 40. I know, but in 1877 that is old. That

I soaked my jumper with tears: The Last Flight Home reviewed

If you’re planning on seeing The Last Flight Home at the cinema, don’t make any plans for afterwards as you’ll be completely done in. I soaked the top half of my jumper with the crying, and then needed to race home to wring it out. It’s an unflinching documentary from film-maker Ondi Timoner following her

Ralph Fiennes at his most terrifying: The Menu reviewed

The Menu is a comedy-horror-thriller set in an exclusive restaurant on a private island and it gives the rich a good kicking, like The Triangle of Sadness, except here they manage to keep their food down, mercifully. (At $1,200 a head, you’d hope so.) But the diners are not spared otherwise, and it’s nastily fun,

Astonishing cinema: No Bears reviewed

Jafar Panahi’s No Bears is, first and foremost, a wonderful film. More than this, you don’t need to know but I’ll tell you anyway. Panahi, an Iranian filmmaker, was banned from making films by the Iran government in 2010 yet has persisted clandestinely. One of his films (This Is Not a Film) was smuggled to

Heartbreakingly tender: Living reviewed

Living is a remake of one of the great existential masterpieces of the 20th century, Kurosawa’s Ikiru (1952), which didn’t need remaking, many will grumble, but once you’ve seen this you’ll be glad that it was. It is as profoundly and deeply felt as the original and as heartbreakingly tender. It asks the same question