Director: Sara Sugarman
Writer: Piers Ashworth
Starring: Samantha Morton, Jonathan Pryce, Tom Felton, Owen Teale, Erin Richards, Owain Yeoman, Adeel Akhtar, Susan Wokoma, Jason Hughes, and Rhod Gilbert
Save the Cinema, a true story about Liz Evans and her efforts to save the Lyric Theatre from closure in 1993, is ironically not being shown in cinemas but instead through Sky Cinema and NOW TV. It’s still a strangely uplifting and enjoyable film that’s drenched in sentimentality and a heart-warming story.
Liz Evans (Samantha Morton) teaches a youth acting group, putting on productions at their local theatre/cinema in Carmarthen, Wales. A vote at a council meeting means that the Lyric Theatre will be closed to make way for a new shopping centre. Liz puts on one last production, of Oliver!, then through reliving her memories decides to move into the theatre in the hope to stop the building from being torn down. Soon, other members of the community join in with her mission and start to show films to show that people still use the Lyric Theatre.
It would be very easy to dismiss Save the Cinema, as overly sentimental with a glossy outlook on the situation and making the mayor of Carmarthen as a pure villain. That doesn’t mean that it’s not genuinely moving to see a story about how one person inspired a movement to save a piece of local history. It’s not really a spoiler to save that the theatre was saved, with a little bit of help from Stephen Spielberg, because there wouldn’t be a film otherwise. Like Dream Horse from last year, this is about a community coming together to achieve something and it’s just as uplifting and feel-good as you’d expect. It’s impossible not to have a smile on your face while watching this.
The cast is pretty great, with so many people appearing throughout, form former Harry Potter star Tom Felton, Gotham’s Erin Richards, and even an appearance from stand-up comedian Rhod Gilbert. Among plenty of other faces you’ll recognise. Everyone is great and you can really feel that this is a passion project for a lot of people. It’s a fitting tribute to Liz Evans, who died in 2004. Her family was involved in the film, with her son, Wynne Evans, making a guest appearance, which UK viewers will recognise as the ‘Go Compare Man’.
Save the Cinema is funny, heartfelt, and a celebration of life and the arts. It’s not going to go down as a history changing film, but it’s the perfect thing to put on during a slow Sunday afternoon.
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