Skyfall and 1917 director Sam Mendes returns very soon with Empire of Light. Throw a cast led by Oscar winner Olivia Colman into the mix, and you have a delectable proposition indeed.
Honestly, who could resist the nostalgic glow of the newly released poster?
The acclaimed Mendes, himself an Oscar winner for American Beauty, sketches a wintry and melancholic portrait of a British coastal town, and the beguiling cinema that lies at its heart. This is the first film that Mendes has written on his own (1917 was a co-writing credit shared with Krysty Wilson-Cairns).
The official synopsis is as follows: Set in an English seaside town in the early 1980s, EMPIRE OF LIGHT is a powerful and poignant story about human connection and the magic of cinema from Academy Award® winning director Sam Mendes.
Likewise, the trailer doesn't give too much away, impressionistically cutting between Colman's central character and another figure played by Blue Story breakout Micheal Ward.
It appears that both characters are employees of said cinema, with Ward's character suffering racial harassment in his role as an usher. It tempers the otherwise nostalgic invocation of The Blues Brothers (glimpsed on the cinema frontage) with a touch of grit and societal ugliness.
Colman and Ward's characters become friends and soulmates across the course of the drama, with Toby Jones playing the cinema projectionist and Colin Firth in an as-yet undisclosed role.
It's a given that Colman excels at burying beneath the skin of lonely, repressed characters, whom she's able to imbue with vibrant inner life. Her award-winning portrayal of the tragic Queen Anne in The Favourite was a masterclass in mixing sympathy and revulsion, although we're not expecting too much of the latter here.
Instead, this looks like a deeply intimate and personal offering from the usually sweeping Mendes, and we can't wait to see how it emerges as a potential Oscars frontrunner.
Given the award-winning pedigree of its actors and filmmakers, including the renowned cinematographer Roger Deakins (a regular Mendes collaborator), this could well clean up the town.
Empire of Light is set for release on 13th January 2023.