Welcome to WeeklyWilson.com, where author/film critic Connie (Corcoran) Wilson avoids totally losing her marbles in semi-retirement by writing about film (see the Chicago Film Festival reviews and SXSW), politics and books----her own books and those of other people. You'll also find her diverging frequently to share humorous (or not-so-humorous) anecdotes and concerns. Try it! You'll like it!

Tag: Saiorse Ronan

movie Foe

“Foe” Premieres on Amazon on October 6th: Closing Night of Nashville Film Festival

“Foe’s setting is supposed to be the Midwest in 2065. Information projected on the screen tells us that the planet’s climate is growing worse as mankind continues to pollute and ruin the air and water. The government, like Elon Musk, is intent on using space as a safety valve for humans to flee our ruined Earth. Once we completely ruin our home planet, humans will be relocated to suitable locales. The husband of this couple is being recruited to go for a year. (Why?)

A representative of the government, Terrence (Aaron Pierre), comes to the couple’s remote farm home to inform them that the husband, Junior, has been selected to live aboard a government-built space station for a year. (Why?)  While he’s gone, an A.I. Replicant will serve as a companion to Junior’s wife Henrietta. Terrence tells the couple that this is a great opportunity for them. Originally, Terrence says the year-long sabbathical will take place in roughly 2 years.

Terrence  leaves, but then he returns in his modernistic DeLorean-like car much sooner.

Terrence returns in just one year. He says that he must live with the couple for a period of months in order to help make the Replicant-to-be-made as authentic as possible. Terrence will be conducting confidential interviews with each of the couple and generally butting into their lives. His presence seems unwelcome and, frankly, unnecessary.

The first impulse that Junior has when their doorbell rings at a very late hour is to grab a gun and shoot. Henrietta talks him out of loading the shotgun; no shots are fired at Terrence. [Perhaps they should have been.]

Junior is not thrilled by Terrence’s news. [I couldn’t help but think of the film we watched just prior to this one where a black family in North Carolina fights for 33 years to be able to stay in their home. Two of the principals in “Silver Dollar Road” go to jail for 8 years, just to be able to remain in the only homes they have ever known. “Foe,” which screened immediately after “Silver Dollar Road,” again presents us with a home-owner who does not want to be rousted from his habitat.]

Junior makes the usual accusations about how he doesn’t want some robot living with his wife while he’s gone. He repeats the usual things about his ties to the land and how he doesn’t think that his wife would like living on an artificial construct launched into space. We, the audience, are less sure of this the more we hear of Henrietta’s angst at the sameness of their lives and how she has always felt “that there’s something else out there for me.”

Farming is already nearly impossible in the Midwest of 2065, however; the bleak picture of the future of the planet certainly seems likely after the weather we’ve all experienced this past summer. The dust storm scene reminded me of the Margot Robbie 2019 film “Dreamland.”


The scenes depicting the ruined planet are all very cinematic. The lonely tone of the farm and fields is impressive, even if it looks nothing like what I would imagine a ruined Midwest would look like in 2065. We could also say that the couple seem oddly stuck in the past, themselves, with a beat-up pick-up truck and a house that could easily be from the fifties. No flat-screen TVs in evidence and a very old-fashioned look and feel to the entire setting. The acting was top-notch, and I would urge you to check it out on Amazon if you have Amazon Prime and fill me in on the gaps in my interpretation, which are many and numerous.


Problems with the interesting landscape do present themselves to the viewer, however. The couple this film focuses on supposedly live in a remote area that is seeing Dust Bowl-like storms and very little rain. If it’s so remote, why is this huge chicken processing plant where Junior works located in the middle nowhere? And who are the customers that Junior’s wife, Henrietta, is seen waiting on in a fancy restaurant?

I’m an Iowa girl. The landscape looked completely foreign. Dying mucky pink fields and crop circles are not part of my Midwestern experience. Even with the passage of thirty-two years, it’s hard to accept that this is supposed to be the Midwestern United States in 2065. (It is, in fact, Victoria in Australia.)

Two Irish actors (Saoirse Ronan as Henrietta and Paul Mescal as Junior) portray the Midwestern couple on the farm, which is suffering the fate of the entire planet. Based on the book Iain Reid wrote and scripted by Reid and Director Garth Davis (“Lion”), this closing night film at the Nashville Film Festival, is an Amazon/MGM project and set to have a premiere on Amazon on October 6th. ( It premiered at the New York Film Festival and will open in the U.S. on October 6th and in the U.K. on October 20th. The reviews have been somewhat negative, but it is definitely worth a look.)


The film owes much to “Black Mirror” episodes we have seen before, like the 2013 episode Be Right Back, starring Domhnall Gleeson as an AI facsimile for Hayley Atwell’s late boyfriend. There was a similar one on “Black Mirror” in 2011 entitled “Beyond the Sea” that starred Aaron Paul as an astronaut. And, of course, who can forget the Replicants of “Blade Runner?”

The movie opens with Henrietta (Saiorse Ronan) crying in the shower. She is bemoaning the loss of interest in her that she feels she has seen from her husband of 7 years. (“In the beginning, everything seems so new and exciting until time makes it so predictable.”)

IMHO, Henrietta has made a sort of “deal with the devil” to  allow the well-made robot early access to her home and marriage. She is tired of the hum-drum existence with which her husband seems content. She wants to play the piano; Junior makes her play in the basement. She wants to travel and leave this dead place. He does not seem to want to leave his  familiar homestead. This seems fairly male, in my own experience, so Henrietta’s angst at her husband’s happiness with the status quo is a motive for her behind-the-scenes collaboration with Terrence to allow the husband substitute to enter her life earlier than we originally think as we watch the film. We only learn it in a climactic scene near the end.

The give-away for “which one is the real robot” is the fact that Henrietta obviously knows Terrence when he comes to their door in the middle of the night. My companion said, “Yes, but isn’t that just because she may have signed them up for the spacecraft because of her desire to leave the farm and get away from the sameness of life?”

Possibly, but the plot seems to give the nod to the wife shacking up with the robot from the get-go and the robot being in house throughout 90% of this movie. (This despite the audience thinking that there will come a later time when the robot will be introduced.) Our thinking is that the robot is “in house” from Scene #One. The ability of a replicant to learn to “love” has been pondered before in other films, and it seems to surface again in this one. (Terrence: “Henrietta didn’t know how this would end. They’ll be studying you for years.”)

A later brief absence on Henrietta’s part caused one of us to feel that Henrietta may have gone off on the spacecraft and sent a Replicant back to live with Junior-the-robot. This could be, although I’ll leave that up to you as you watch this on Amazon.

I think I need to read the book in order to completely understand the symbolism of the bugs and other plot points. Why it is called “Foe” is another good question. I can offer some possible reasons for that title, but it doesn’t seem like the strongest fit.

The acting was good. Saiorse Ronan is good in everything and I looked forward to this film. Paul Mescal was a fine counterpart, but not someone whose work I was familiar with;he rose to fame in England in a television series. Some felt the accents were off. I honestly did not notice any break-through Irish accent problems.

We enjoyed the film.  Drop a line and we’ll thrash the plot out together.


Saoirse Ronan as Henrietta

Paul Mescal as Junior

Aaron Pierre as Terrence


Writer (based on the book by)





“The Lovely Bones” Makes Murder A Bit Too Lovely

“The Lovely Bones” is Peter Jackson’s interpretation of the best-selling novel written by Alice Sebold. A 14-year-old girl who was murdered is still spiritually guiding her father from above as he continues to search for his daughter’s killer.

Jackson has become better-known in recent years for his CG extravaganzas like the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy or the most recent “King Kong” but there was a time (in a galaxy far, far away) when Peter Jackson could tell a murder story with the best of them, as he did with “Heavenly Creatures,” Kate Winslet’s film debut (1994).

If “The Lovely Bones” is any indication, that time has passed. Far from agreeing with Sean Patrick, who ended his review by saying “’The Lovely Bones’ is one of the most daring and original works in years and one of the best films of the last year,” I think the film was a semi-disaster, fairly slow-moving, and only good from the standpoint of the acting and the sets. I’m not alone in that assessment, with the objections I had being fairly widespread across the land.

Fortunately, “The Lovely Bones” had a great cast, especially in Saoirse Ronan, who plays the murder victim, Susie Salmon. (Saoirse has already been Oscar-nominated once for her part as the younger sister in “Atonement,” and rightfully so). Saiorse gives another wonderful performance here, as do Rachel Weisz and Mark Wahlberg as her parents, plus a toupeed Stanly Tucci (who also has some sort of fake teeth thing going on) is great as the murderer, George Harvey, the Salmons next-door neighbor who just happens to be a serial killer.

Saiorse has been nominated as Best Actress by the Critics Choice Awards (as was Stanley Tucci for Best Actor); won the Santa Barbara International Film Festival Virtuoso Award, won the Phoenix Film Critics Society Award for Best Performance by a Youth, Female, and won the Las Vegas Film Critics Society Award, the Sierra Award, for Youth in Film (2009). She is very, very good, and I predict that she will do some amazing work in her upcoming films. Tucci, also, is Golden Globe nominated for Best Actor in a Supporting Role; has been nominated for a Broadcast Film Critics Association Critics Choice Award for 2010 for Best Supporting Actor; was nominated for the Chicago Film Critics Association Awards as Best Supporting Actor of 2009; is nominated for the Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role by the Screen Actors Guild for 2010; and has been nominated by the Washington DC Area Film Critics Association as Best Supporting Actor for 2009. The above means that either or both could be Oscar-nominated for the March 7th Awards show.

As George Harvey (Stanley Tucci) in “The Lovely Bones” says, “I took a risk and tried something new and discovered a talent I didn’t know I had.” Unfortunately, the talent George discovers seems to be killing girls and women, and the string started with his landlady Sophie Sanchetti in 1960 and continued through Jackie Meyer of Delaware, age 13; Leah Fox of Delaware in 1969; Lana Johnson of Bucks County, Pennsylvania; Flora Hernandez of Delaware in 1963; Denise Lee Ang of Connecticut, age 13; and our heroine, Susie Salmon of Norristown, Pennsylvania in 1973.

Let’s start with what’s good about the movie.

The cast is uniformly good…. in some cases (see above) outstanding. There is a minor quibble with the concept of having Susan Sarandon play a boozy Grandma Lynn. Her stint was more appropriate to insertion into the old television series “Malcolm in the Middle.” My husband read the book (I didn’t) and he doesn’t remember the grandmother in the book at all, nor was there so much emphasis on Susie’s status in the “In Between” after her murder (which I will address in a moment). On the positive side, I was struck time and time again by the careful attention to the details of 1973 life that the art/set director displayed. It is true that Susie’s schoolbooks bear the clearly visible legend “Fairfax County Schools” and that the clipping we see later is clearly labeled “Fairfax, Virginia,” while the voice-over tells us that this is Norristown, Pennsylvania, but you’d have to be semi-bored to be noticing these tiny little telling mistakes. Saiorse Ronan is an Oscar waiting to happen. She is luminous. The cinematography is also good, especially the creative scenes shot through the small dollhouse. The symbolic metaphor of ships-in-a-bottle, while useful, was not faithful to the source material and, ultimately, added to the problems that I am going to label “bad.”

The Bad:

In addition to the ships with bottles in them crashing on the shore, and Mark Wahlberg throwing the ships in the bottles to the floor to demonstrate how upset he is, the entire depiction of the strange “in between” world where Susie is now lodged did not fly, with me. Another critic mentioned it as being reminiscent of “What Dreams May Come.” I don’t have problems with using light and fake fog and weird other-worldly visions to illustrate this “in between” world, but maybe it would have been better for all of us if Jackson had stuck to telling the story, itself, without the special effects extravaganza stuff he has become known for in his latest films?

Here’s another “bad” thing. The 14-year-old girl is brutally murdered, (as were the others mentioned above). Her throat is slit. But all the victims turn up almost humming a happy tune like a Manson clan from the sixties or the cast of Big Love, in heaven, where there are lines like, “It’s beautiful, of course. It’s beautiful. It’s heaven. What are you waiting for? You’re free.” (*And, on behalf of “Field of Dreams,” I would like to remind all of you of the line that trumps any here, which is, “It’s not heaven. It’s Iowa.” So, maybe the In-Between is really Iowa? Naaaaah.)

I don’t think that we want to give anyone the incorrect impression that, once you are murdered, it’s all roses and fake fog and bright lines at the end of hallways. Lines like, “I began to see things in a way that let me see the world without me in it…Nobody notices when we leave.  At best, we might feel a whisper, or the wave of a whisper undulating down.” cloud the reality of a brutal death. I am certain that Susie Salmon felt a lot more than “a whisper or a wave of a whisper” as she was brutally murdered. (No spoiler there, as it’s a well-known fact that the book is narrated by a girl already dead.)

My husband, who read the book, tells me that this emphasis on the “in between” as a semi- Candyland and the annoying character of Asian Holly Go-Lightly who guides Susie in the In Between (actually a previous victim named Denise Lee Ang), were not in the book. I hope not.

The entire idea of a murdered girl finding happiness after her death (“These were the lovely bones that had grown around my absence.”) was, to be honest, off-putting to me as a parent.  This film is every parent’s worst nightmare, and it almost seems to be making light of the horrific. Of this year’s films, Jackson’s depiction of limbo, aka the in-between, reminded me most of the Terry Gilliam flop that featured Heath Ledger venturing into a similar fantasyland. (When Ledger died, Jude Law and Johnny Depp filled in for him, creating a very confusing film, indeed, called “The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus,” one of the biggest messes of the year 2009.)

The other issue that divided critics across the land was the idea that Susie feels worst about her unfulfilled teenage yearnings for Ray Singh (Reese Ritchie), who was about to give her her first kiss. There are better reasons to stay alive than to be kissed. Staying alive is reason enough to stay alive, she said redundantly, echoing the song title.

The film was slow moving, rousing itself (again, after the initial murder takes place) only during the scenes when the younger sister, well played by Rose McIver, breaks into the neighbor’s house to search for clues to her sister’s murder. As always happens when there is someone in a vacant house looking for the piece of evidence that will nail the suspect, the homeowner returns and peril threatens. That part, however, was far too short. Also, the way Lindsey, the younger sister, reveals what she has found upon her return home was ridiculous. Any kid I know, possessing this kind of dynamite information, would enter his or her house yelling at the top of his or her lungs, but Lindsey is quite restrained…restrained enough, in fact, to allow the neighbor to slip through the grasp of the authorities. (My kids spent the first ten years of their lives standing on the end of diving boards screeching: “MOM! MOM! LOOK AT ME!” That’s why I can’t believe that Lindsey in the film waits so patiently and in such an unhurried manner to reveal what she has found.  So much for Dad’s years spent ferreting out the truth, which includes a near-arrest and a near-fatal beating. When you DO find out the truth, you hold on to the evidence so long that the suspect gets away? [As the British would say, “Not bloody likely.”]

To conclude: slow-moving, artsy, good acting, great sets and period furniture and costumes and posters, wonderful acting turns from Saioren Ronan and Stanley Tucci. A good rental, but not worth the price of admission at the theater.

And somebody urge Peter Jackson to return to his hard-edged telling of a murder, as related in the 1994 film “Heavenly Creatures.” Lose the fog. Lose the light effects. Forget about the miraculous leafy tree and the gazebo. Just the facts, Peter, just the facts.

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