Empire of Light is a poignant new drama that boasts a truly formidable array of talent. Oscar winner Sam Mendes (American Beauty; Skyfall; 1917) writes and directs this nostalgic, eighties-set tale of an English seaside cinema. He's drafted in the Oscar-winning likes of Olivia Colman (The Favourite) and Colin Firth (The King's Speech), alongside Micheal Ward (Top Boy) and Toby Jones (Captain America).
Meanwhile, behind the camera, Oscar-winning cinematographer Roger Deakins (Mendes' collaborator on Skyfall and 1917) gives everything a suitably handsome sheen. Factor in a lilting score from Oscar-winning composers Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross (The Social Network) and there's no denying the pedigree on display.
The narrative revolves around Colman's character Hilary, the cinema's emotionally troubled front-of-house manager who bonds with the building's new usher Stephen (Ward). Mendes uses the location to examine a cross-spectrum of topics, from mental health to the pernicious influence of Britain's National Front. Firth plays the cinema's unctuous owner and Jones plays the projectionist Norman whose job it is to lure people into a world of pure imagination.
The movie screened in advance last night for Cineworld Unlimited members and we've curated a few of their responses here. Is it a winner? Scroll down to find out.
Really thought provoking, loved the fact you had no idea how the story would play out. Everything about the film was perfect in my mind, to tell a story that was provocative, soul searching and informative. Every actor played the role in such a way that they all fitted perfectly— Sam Arnold (@Sam15jane71) January 4, 2023
Fantastic film. Beautiful and touching. Fantastic love letter to cinema whilst touching on other topics. Olivia Coleman and Michael Ward are fantastic together. Sam Mendes has been a brilliant film with this. I will be seeing it again!!— Po-ltergeist 👻 (@posaidwhat) January 4, 2023
Such a wonderfully written and directed movie, Olivia Colman is superb again. Loved the moments that made nearly everyone laugh, certainly my top movie so far.— Blazing Minds (@BlazingMinds) January 3, 2023
Beautifully shot throughout, loved the nostalgic faded seaside glamour of the old cinema which really contrasted with the darker Colman and Ward storylines. She was amazing but isn't she always!— Peter Sisson (@velvetcactus198) January 3, 2023
A very emotional film in so many ways. Far more depth than I think the trailer made out. Stellar performances from Olivia Coleman and Micheal Ward. I laughed and I cried. Loved the gorgeous cinema setting, ans the beach shots. Stunning. Thank you!— Katie Samuel (@KatieSamuel) January 3, 2023
Good, and hits hard if you know / love someone who struggles with mental illness. Perfectly encapsulates the cycles that some people go through. Colman brilliant, as ever and beautiful work from Sam Mendes. I could watch that fairground scene over and over again. Stunning.— Mitch (@uknownuffin) January 3, 2023
Have to say absolutely blown away, Olivia Coleman was perfect as was Michael Ward. Fantastic film albeit with the tough storyline and treatment of Stephen. Best film that I have seen In ages. Have booked a 2nd viewing straight away after got home. 10/10 #EmpireOfLight #samMendes— gavtom1986 (@gavtom1986) January 3, 2023
Missed the screening? Good news: Empire of Light is released at Cineworld on January 9th.
Don't forget about our exciting Reward Season for Unlimited Members whereby you get to see movies in advance and enjoy special rewards as well.
The next Cineworld Unlimited screening is the Tom Hanks comedy-drama A Man Called Otto. What happens when Cinema's Nicest Guy plays a grumpy neighbourhood busybody? Watch the trailer below to get an idea and don't miss the screening on January 5th.