Samantha Morton, Tom Felton, Jonathan Pryce and Adeel Akhtar lead a heartwarming live action family movie: here’s our review.

In 1993, the Lyric Theatre in Carmarthen, Wales was in trouble. A community space for theatre and cinema, it was threatened with closure, and a campaign was promptly organised – led by a woman called Liz Evans – to save it. Without giving too much away, said campaign ended up trying to get a major Hollywood blockbuster for a premiere, and as the film Save The Cinema depicts it, it’s turned into a classic people versus corrupt politician story. And, as it turns out, a very fun one.

Samantha Morton, never less than brilliant, takes on the role of Liz, who it’d be fair to say doesn’t take the news of the Lyric’s closure well. Thus, we follow the story as the town rallies to try and turn things around, and it’s a traditional set up for a feel-good movie of this ilk. We roughly know where it’s all going to go, so what makes it lift or peter out is how well it’s done, and how well the characters come to life.

Penned by Piers Ashworth and directed by Sara Sugarman, what we get here is a pacey, entertaining and frequently witty telling of the tale. The tone is light, with bite added where required. And whilst this doesn’t get over how easy it is to predict the tale, nor an ending that doesn’t quite build as high as you might hope, it’s a whole lot of fun.

It helps of course that it’s grounded by Morton, both human and sharp in the role of Liz. She’s ably supported by Jonathan Pryce in an-almost magical cameo role, whilst Susan Wokoma and Tom Felton firm up the ensemble too.

The one who nearly walks away with the picture though is Adeel Akhtar as the town’s mayor. There’s a full-on Alan Rickman in Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves vibe here, as he – in a good way – feels like he’s crashed in from another film and is having the time of his life. Giving that his character could have been a traditional antagonist, he’s a flat-out firework in the middle of the film, and the man doesn’t waste a second of his screen time.

Suitable for a family audience – and how many live action films of late can you say that about – and with real rewatch value to it too, Save The Cinema captures the feel of films that the UK industry got really good at in the later 1990s, and sort of fell out of love with. It’s not just a love letter to the big screen, but to the tone of those feel good comedies as well. Sure, there are cracks, and the framework could perhaps use a little dusting. But the film itself is a feelgood delight.

An Adeel Akhtar spin-off movie next please.

Save The Cinema is in cinemas and on Sky Cinema from January 14th

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