Capsule reviews for Dec. 21


It’s not as dark and edgy as some of the other films from Austrian director Michael Haneke (The White Ribbon), but this romantic drama is uncompromising and emotionally exhausting. It chronicles Anne (Emmanuelle Riva), an elderly Parisian woman whose stroke and its debilitating effects threatens to tear apart the relationship with her longtime husband (Jean-Louis Trintgnant) who becomes her caretaker. The film’s incisive attention to intimate details of the couple’s everyday life add to the powerful authenticity, making this study of aging and family bonds more heartbreaking. The audacious performances by both veteran actors are wonderful, and the film never resorts to cheap sentimentality. (Rated PG-13, 127 minutes).


Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away

The fan base for the famed French performance troupe likely won’t increase much with this handsomely mounted film from director Andrew Adamson (Shrek), which essentially weaves together some highlights of a few of Cirque’s recent themed traveling shows. The 3D visuals yield generous close-up looks at the performers and their stunts, allowing viewers to appreciate the difficulty of both the gymnastics and the artistry involved. Yet it also detracts from the majesty and scope of a live performance, and the lack of focus on a single story makes it feel more like a highlight reel or infomercial more than anything. See them live instead. (Rated PG, 91 minutes).


Not Fade Away

David Chase, best known as the creator of “The Sopranos,” takes the tender and heartfelt route with his feature directorial debut, a coming-of-age story set during the rock-n-roll craze of the 1960s. It takes place in New Jersey, following a young drummer (John Magaro), whose obsession with emulating the Rolling Stones cause strife within his family, especially with his working-class father (James Gandolfini). The movie also examines the decade from a broader cultural perspective with Chase’s typical sharp dialogue, but while it has a personal feel, the performances are a mixed bag and it too often resorts to nostalgic cliches, especially when the music isn’t playing. (Rated R, 112 minutes).