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film review

Also opening: Rosie, an intimate, unflinching look at Ireland’s housing crisis

Gretel & Hansel

Patrick Redmond/The Associated Press

  • Directed by Oz Perkins
  • Written by Rob Hayes
  • Starring Sophia Lillis, Alice Krige, Jessica De Gouw
  • Classification 14A; 87 minutes

Rating:

3.5 out of 4 stars

Gretel & Hansel, a new remake of Hansel and Gretel (the title is backward to bring its female protagonist to the foreground), begins with Gretel, played by a wonderfully subtle Sophia Lillis of the It franchise, pounding the pavement looking for work. She and her younger brother, Hansel, have just been ousted from their home by their insane mother, who threatens to hack them into tiny little pieces if they stick around. The reverberations of trauma, and how women can come into their power in a world designed to cauterize their hearts, are the engines that drive this surprisingly feminist take on a disturbing fairy tale, penned by first-time feature writer Rob Hayes. (Opens Jan. 31 in Toronto, Edmonton and Calgary)

Rosie

Element Pictures

  • Directed by Paddy Breathnach
  • Written by Roddy Doyle
  • Starring Sarah Greene, Moe Dunford, Ellie O’Halloran, Ruby Dunne, Darragh McKenzie and Molly McCann
  • Classification PG; 86 mins

Rating:

3.5 out of 4 stars

There’s a cinéma verité-like feeling to Irish filmmaker Paddy Breathnach’s latest feature Rosie, which makes sense since he started out making documentaries for RTE Irish Television before embarking on fictional films such as I Went Down and Viva. Rosie tells the story of a working-class Irish family caught in the country’s housing crisis by following them over a period of 36 hours. There’s a mundane repetitiveness to the story that reflects the bleak realities of a family on the brink of homelessness. (Opens Jan. 31 in Toronto, Edmonton and Regina; Feb. 7 in Calgary; Feb. 14 in Saskatoon; and March 13 in Ottawa)

The Rhythm Section

Jose Haro/Paramount Pictures

  • Directed by Reed Morano
  • Written by Mark Burnell
  • Starring Blake Lively, Jude Law and Sterling K. Brown
  • Classification PG; 109 minutes

Rating:

2.5 out of 4 stars

The Rhythm Section, starring Blake Lively as a fledgling assassin named Stephanie Patrick, is produced by Barbara Broccoli and Michael Wilson, the duo behind the James Bond franchise (this is only their third non-Bond production). But in the hands of Reed Morano, the cinematographer-turned-director who made her mark helming the first three episodes of The Handmaid’s Tale, Patrick is the anti-Bond. She has to do all the things an action star does – hand-to-hand combat, shootings, narrow escapes, stabbings – only she does them the way the average person would. The fight scenes are messy and awkward, and she survives only through dumb luck. (Opens Jan. 31)

Also: What’s new and noteworthy to stream

Your best Amazon Prime, Kanopy and Disney+ streaming bets this Feb. 1-2 weekend.


This weekly guide was compiled by Lori Fazari, with reviews from Aparita Bhandari, Chandler Levack, Johanna Schneller and Lara Zarum.