Peterloo, released on 2nd November
Epic in scope and ambition, Mike Leigh’s account of the massacre of Peterloo in 1819 crams a lot into two-and-a-half hours. Leigh’s characteristically abrasive approach is sharpened here by a palpable anger on behalf of the voiceless workers of the 19th-century north of England. If anything, there are too many voices here in an overcrowded, slightly hectoring first hour. But the film’s second half builds to a harrowing climax. The core of the story—the rumbles of dissent from people ignored by a self-serving elite—will not struggle to find a contemporary echo.
Widows, released on 6th November
Brassy, cynical and riotously entertaining, Steve McQueen’s Widows is the director’s most commercial picture to date, while simultaneously taking a switchblade to the casting conventions of Hollywood. This Chicago-set remake of the 1980s Lynda La Plante UK television series gives Viola Davis, above, a gift of a role in Veronica, a poised gangster’s wife turned heist mastermind. Together with two other women united by the death of their partners and the debt they left behind, Veronica wreaks revenge on men who underestimate her.
Shoplifters, released on 23rd November
With this Cannes Palme d’Or-winning drama, Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda reaffirms his position as one of the most elegant storytellers in cinema. A family of thieves who eke out a hardscrabble existence adopt a neglected girl they encounter on the way home one night. Unassuming, wryly comic and deeply humane, the film invites us into the fold of this warm but off-kilter domestic set up. The reveal in the final act hits the audience like a bullet train.