Deborah Ross

Deborah Ross is the chief film critic of The Spectator

I may never recover: Sisu reviewed

When I went into the Sisu screening I knew only that it was a Finnish film, so was expecting an arthouse drama, maybe featuring bearded men in nice fisherman knits and herrings being salted, rather than this hyper-violent, viciously bloody exploitation flick from which I may never recover. It is a swift 90 minutes and

Deeply moving but bleak: Plan 75 reviewed

Plan 75 is a dystopian Japanese drama about a government-sponsored euthanasia programme introduced to address Japan’s ageing society. Aged 75 or over? Agree to die and we’ll give you $1,000 to spend as you like in your last days! With a collective funeral thrown in for free! Actually, it’s not sold aggressively like that, as

I cried twice: The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry reviewed

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry is an excellent adaptation of Rachel Joyce’s bestselling novel (2012) about a retired old fella who traverses England on foot in the belief he can save a friend dying of cancer. It could have been twee or sentimental (that was the fear) but instead it is spare and restrained

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