There are certain things you never truly forget. The smell of fresh-cut grass. Seeing fireworks burst in the sky. The feeling of water against your skin. The way others treat you. Empire of Light is the most visually appealing film of the year for me, making it completely memorable. Its lighting and color palette give it a fragile sense, almost as if just by watching, we have broken something precious. It works wonders for the story at the center. With Sam Mendes acting as writer and director and Olivia Coleman in center stage, wonders are woven within a movie theater. When something so precious is presented on the silver screen, I cannot help but want to gush over its many features, faults, and all.
What is the first thing you think of when you hear the word movie? I personally think about the way each story makes me feel. They offer escapes into the lives of others for such little time. Yet the impact may be lasting, and with every memory of it comes growing amounts of joy. A significant giddy buildup of happiness inside. That is precisely what will happen when looking back on the film, one cinema-set scene in general. But it won’t bubble up like a shaken-up coke and more like a flower growing about to bloom in the sun. In fact, I’ll look back and remember why film is so important.
One could also say that cinema connects us to one another. I think that is pretty obvious. Unfortunately, only a few people really acknowledge that. That is precisely what this movie sets out to discuss. Subtle tones are sprinkled into the romance about connecting to one another. Why is it so important to connect with someone or something? Part of Coleman’s journey through the film is finding a way to connect to those around her. She is a lonely woman who works at a cinema where she watches everyone around her experience more exciting lives. Not the ones that are playing on-screen, though, as she never tries to sneak in! That is until a new, younger employee is hired. That’s when her limits are tested, as she must overcome obstacles of the past to forge a new future for herself.
This film really is a kaleidoscope of different ideas. There are some scenes and moments that feel a bit disjointed. The characters aren’t always the most fleshed out, and the chemistry falls flat towards the middle. But kaleidoscopes are also quite beautiful. Beautiful visions are cast. The films honey coated colors truly bring the viewer in and help to emphasize the tenderness of the story. And that is precisely where the beauty lies. I would suggest making your way to see it for yourself when you can. A true vision. Have a great night/day. Be kind.