Mary Poppins Returns
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All Critics (12)
| Top Critics (7)
| Fresh (5)
| Rotten (7)
It hits all the expected beats of a thoroughly vanilla biopic as an aging Leonie reflects on her unconventional life via plodding voiceover while doddering through a forest collecting berries.
As a portrait of female strength and a celebration of the artistic spirit, "Leonie" too seldom comes fully alive.
Failing to carve anything graceful or fluid out of a slab of biography, helmer Hisako Matsui does bring to light a curious and intriguing story of a great-woman-behind-a-great-man in Leonie.
Lushly photographed and featuring a stellar performance by the luminous Emily Mortimer in the title role, Hisako Matsui's film is deeply heartfelt but only intermittently compelling.
Leonie Gilmour was almost certainly unusual and unusually self-reliant. Too bad that the film that bears her name ultimately reduces her to the mother of her child.
Color it inspirational.
The movie is more enjoyable when pictures rather than words do the talking. Mortimer is wonderful, but her speeches are less memorable than the simple shots of Japanese flowers, fields and homes that Matsui uses as artistic grout to connect scenes.
Though Leonie is slow at times, it highlights a little-known historical figure in a manner that is emotionally and intellectually satisfying.
Despite some nice period elements, it's a mostly sparkle-free affair, sticking so closely to the genre blueprint as to be generic.
Matsui's Leonie is, very simply, a beautiful film, and one that will live in our hearts and minds long after it ends on screen.
Uneven, but it captures a time, and a woman ahead of her time.
"Love is one of life's most spiritual and beautiful chapters," Mortimer is forced to purr. Later: "It seems I am fated to move wherever it is I seek to build my dream."
In 1901, Leonie Gilmour(Emily Mortimer) is a recent graduate of Bryn Mawr University where she made some friends for life and was patronized by any number of male professors. For her first job, she becomes an editor for Yone Noguchi(Shido Nakamura) who she not only helps with his poetry but also assists in getting him published. Soon after, they fall in love and have a child together. By 1905, Japan is at war with Russia, and testestorone calls Yone back to his native country. So, with few other options, Leonie decamps with her son for Pasadena and the waiting arms of her mother(Mary Kay Place).
Aided by a very good lead performance from Emily Mortimer, "Leonie" seeks to tell the story of a true life pioneer who battled the patriarchy on two separate continents. Ironically, this was as Japan was modernizing, leaving behind some of its feudal ways, but becoming just as entrenched in others. And at the same time, the movie counterintuitively tries to undermine Leonie by reinforcing her traditional role as a mother, in this case, of Isamu Noguchi, a noted sculptor and not just in a by the way sort of fashion, either.
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