It's the week for "films which are much better than you'd think." On Friday I watched The Battle of the Sexes, which turned the Bobby Riggs-Billie Jean King circus into a really interesting piece of social history, not to mention an affair between King and her hairdresser which could have been sentimental or tacky but was really moving (Emma Stone and Andrea Riseborough, both excellent).
And now, three nights later, comes Film Stars don't Die in Liverpool. Real life story of aging Hollywood actress having an affair with younger Liverpool actor. Lots of tackiness potential there - but it's rivetting. Really clever movement back and forth through time, initially explained with subtitled headings, but then as it gains momentum we're trusted to work out for ourselves what's happening, and when. and if you're of a certain age, the fact that the 'when' is mainly 1979-81 is a bonus, because they've really worked to take you back there. On top of that, the story's consistently changing, as we revisit episodes with a fuller awareness of what's going on for both the main people. Who are terrific. Annette Bening was no surprise, but if all you know of Jamie Bell is Billy Elliott, then prepare to be knocked sideways. It's a touching, varied, profound study of a relationship - a real treat.