Empire of Light

Romantic ode by Sam Mendes (American Beauty, 1917, Skyfall) to the magic of cinema and human connections. With yet another splendid role by Olivia Colman.

Time & Tickets

Olivia Colman is extraordinary as Hilary, the smiling, efficient, middle-aged manager of a beautiful, slightly fading cinema in a British seaside town in the early ‘80s, who suffers periodic outbursts of schizophrenia. When her abusive boss takes on a young West Indian usher called Stephen – a rare Black face in this very White bit of England – he is instinctively drawn to Hilary as someone else who doesn’t quite fit in. The two begin a tentative relationship, safely cocooned by the cinema’s tightly knit staff of amiable eccentrics, until the racist National Front invades their sleepy town, whipping up the local skinheads to march along the sea in front of the cinema. Meanwhile, Hilary’s brain has started fizzing with illness again.

Nominated for the Oscar for Best Cinematography.

Sam Mendes, UK, USA, 2022, 115 min. English spoken, Dutch subtitles. With Olivia Colman, Michael Ward, Colin Firth, Tom Brooke, Hannah Onslow..