Mary Poppins Returns
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All Critics (11)
| Top Critics (1)
| Fresh (6)
| Rotten (5)
What worked in Shields's quiet, contemplative novel about a family in crisis falls flat on screen.
The film is a beautiful piece of work with a searing truthfulness. Keener plays the parental helplessness with subtle intelligence.
As it goes, the conclusion to Unless is too cut-and-dry to offer any lasting commentary regarding homeless issues.
Brief, sincere and heartfelt, Unless never goes entirely off the rails. But it never convinces us that the adaptation needed to be attempted.
It's a handsome film, soulful but efficient, and Keener and Hannah Gross deliver fine performances.
Alan Gilsenan's adaptation of Carol Shields' final novel Unless has the delicate touch and the humanity that characterise his documentaries. Yet somehow one is left wanting more.
Failing to articulate the feminist argument that sets the novel apart, if anything does, Gilsenan is instead doggedly loyal to Shields' worst impulses.
The best adaptations stand on their own. Unless, adapted by director Alan Gilsenan from Carol Shields' novel, doesn't stand so much as slowly slide to the ground.
Everything then leads to a "gotcha" ending that feels exploitative rather than illuminating.
"Unless" is one of the most tangled conjunctions in English, and how can a movie show that?
Keener is great as usual, convincingly conveying confusion and grief, and the film is visually intense, its handheld cameras relying on close-ups.
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