‘The Riot Club’ Opens March 27, Watch it and Wince

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"The Riot Club" looks at upper class privilege as it plays out among male students at Oxford University.

Credit: Courtesy of IFC Films.

(WOMENSENEWS)– On March 27 three femme helmed films light up theatre marquees, and they’re all narrative features. And two femme-centric features are also of particular interest.

"The Riot Club," Danish director Lone Scherfig‘s hard-hitting take on Laura Wade’s screen adaptation of her play, delves into the darkest side of upper class privilege as it plays out among male students (played by Sam Claflin, Max Irons and Douglas Booth) at Oxford University. They belong to the elitist (and entirely fictitious) Riot Club, a secret society dedicated to aggressive debauchery and the degradation of common folk, particularly women. As these terrifyingly corrupt young men proclaim in the film, they are destined to be Britain’s civic leaders, a horrifying thought. Holliday Grainger is brilliant as one young woman who refuses to become their victim.

"Serena," directed by Susanne Bier (another Dane), is a sweeping melodrama and romance set in Depression-era North Carolina. When timber baron George Pemberton (Bradley Cooper) and Serena Shaw (Jennifer Lawrence) meet, they instantly fall in love and marry. Fine so far, but then come devastating financial circumstances and betrayals. The plot is belabored. But Lawrence and Cooper are convincing, and their onscreen chemistry is palpable. That and the movie’s gorgeous cinematography and spectacular scenery make it worth seeing.

"A Girl Like Her," written and directed by Amy S. Weber, is a documentary-style narrative feature about high school bullying; with one girl bullying another. Lexi Ainsworth stars as Jessica, who wears a hidden camera to document the misdeeds of her former best friend, Avery (Hunter King). This "found footage" and other evidence is later used by a filmmaker (played by Weber) who comes to the school to make a documentary about bullying. The film-within-a-film device doesn’t work entirely, but Weber is addressing a serious subject and the girls’ performances are compelling. Recommended as a conversation starter for parents and teens.

"White God," directed by Kornél Mundruczó, is a femme-centric drama starring the beautiful young Hungarian actress Zsófia Psotta as Lili, a 13-year-old whose father puts her beloved dog, Hagen, out on the street. While Lili struggles to reunite with her pet, Hagen becomes part of a terrorizing rogue dog pack. The film, a classic tale of vengeance, is also a powerful parable about poverty and racism. It’s a must-see. In Hungarian with English subtitles.

"Man From Reno," directed by Dave Boyle, is a femme-centric thriller about a best-selling Japanese mystery novelist (Ayako Fujitani) who abandons her stressful U.S. book tour and heads for San Francisco, where she steps into a twisted mystery that takes over her life. This film is daringly slow-paced and understated, but it is so full of surprises and interesting idiosyncrasies that it keeps you thoroughly engaged.

Opening March 31

"To Write Love On Her Arms" is a truth-based narrative about Renee Yohe (Kat Dennings), a 19-year-old drug addict whose struggle to overcome her addiction, depression and other life-impairing difficulties eventually lead to the creation of TWLOHA.com, the nonprofit help group founded by Yohe’s friend Jamie Tworkowski (Chad Michael Murray). Nathan Frankowski‘s well-made film appeals especially to teens. The score, used as a key to Yohe’s character and state of mind, is phenomenal.

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