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Film: Download and DVD latest releases

Damon Smith reviews the latest download, streaming, premium video on-demand and DVD/Blu-ray releases...

By Damon Smith, PA Film Critic

Sophie Hawkshaw as Ellie and Zoe Terakes as Abbie in Ellie & Abbie (And Ellie's Dead Aunt)

FILM OF THE WEEK

Ellie & Abbie (And Ellie’s Dead Aunt) (Cert 15, 82 mins, Kaleidoscope Home Entertainment, Comedy/Romance, available from July 12 on Amazon Prime Video/BT TV Store/iTunes/Sky Store/TalkTalk TV Store and other download and streaming services, available from July 19 on DVD £15.99)

Starring: Sophie Hawkshaw, Zoe Terakes, Julia Billington, Marta Dusseldorp.

Seventeen-year-old Ellie (Sophie Hawkshaw) is a studious school captain, who bolsters her self-confidence and belief with affirmations. “I go beyond other people’s fears and limitations,” she chants.

She nurtures a secret crush on classmate Abbie (Zoe Terakes) but has not mustered the courage to declare her feelings.

During a casual conversation with her mother Erica (Marta Dusseldorp) about the forthcoming Year 12 formal dance, Ellie inadvertently outs herself: “I’m asking a girl in my class to the formal… I’m gay.”

Saying those two words aloud for the first time magically conjures the ghost of deceased lesbian aunt Tara (Julia Billington), who is determined to pass on the wisdom from her activist days in the 1980s. “Coming out is hard and I have been sent here to help you through it,” smiles Tara. Ellie & Abbie (And Ellie’s Dead Aunt) is a crowd-pleasing Australian romantic comedy laced with gentle humour and boundless affection for the central couple as they nervously edge towards each other to an upbeat soundtrack.

Writer-director Monica Zanetti’s film wears its LGBTIQ+ credentials with pride (fittingly) and conveys the pangs of first love out of the closet with sweetness and sincerity.

There is a lack of sophistication to the storytelling and in places the script is heavy-handed.

However, the two leads are immensely likable and Dusseldorp navigates a conventional character arc as a mother coming to terms with her daughter’s burgeoning sexuality.

Billington’s spectral mentor, who jokingly describes herself with as a fairy godmother, is gifted the broadest comedic licence and she exercises it with gusto.

Rating: ***

Finding You. Pictured: Tom Everett Scott as Montgomery Rush and Jedidiah Goodacre as Beckett Rush

ALSO RELEASED

Finding You (Cert 12, 114 mins, Sky Cinema, Romance/Drama, streaming from July 10 exclusively on NOW TV)

Starring: Rose Reid, Jedidiah Goodacre, Saoirse-Monica Jackson, Katherine McNamara, Vanessa Redgrave, Patrick Bergin, Ciaran McMahon, Fiona Bell.

Four months after a failed audition for Manhattan’s prestigious music conservatory, violinist Finley Sinclair (Rose Reid) follows in the footsteps of her late brother by studying abroad for a semester in the Co Louth town of Carlingford.

Hosted by B&B owners Sean (Ciaran McMahon) and Nora Callaghan (Fiona Bell) and their perpetually effervescent daughter Emma (Saoirse-Monica Jackson), Finley unexpectedly crosses paths with Hollywood dreamboat Beckett Rush (Jedidiah Goodacre).

He is in town to film the latest instalment of the blockbusting Dawn Of The Dragons films with on-off girlfriend Taylor Risdale (Katherine McNamara).

Finley tries to ignore the sparks of attraction while she befriends a cantankerous resident of a local care home (Vanessa Redgrave) to gain credits for her Irish Studies course.

Adapted from Jenny B Jones’ young adult novel with dollops of whimsy, Finding You is a lightweight romantic comedy that turns up the heat to lukewarm thanks to solid work from Reid and Goodacre.

The most emotionally satisfying arc is tangential to their romance and attests to the power of a national treasure to glister in the rough.

Characters repeatedly stare into each other’s eyes and swoon, “Things aren’t always what they seem.”

Alas, the same cannot be said of writer-director Brian Baugh’s script, which is exactly what it appears: cliched, derivative and depressingly dependent on men to shape Finley’s future, including Patrick Bergin’s free-spirited fiddler, who knows just what to say to prepare the heroine for musical greatness.

She is fiercely capable of composing her own soundtrack but Baugh’s film stubbornly refuses to let her.

Rating: **

Fear Street Part 2: 1978. Pictured: Emily Rudd as Cindy Berman and Sadie Sink as Ziggy Berman

Fear Street Part 2: 1978 (Cert 15 TBC, 110 mins, streaming from July 9 exclusively on Netflix, Horror/Thriller/Romance)

Last week, Netflix launched a trilogy of films based on the best-selling horror series penned by RL Stine, which chronicles murder and mayhem in the cursed town of Shadyside across four centuries.

Fear Street Part 1: 1994 sowed seeds of fear about a 17th-century witch named Sarah Fier, who casts a long shadow over the town and its residents.

The second chapter turns back the clock to 1978 and a summer to remember at Camp Nightwing.

School’s out and students including feuding sisters Cindy (Emily Rudd) and Ziggy Berman (Sadie Sink) are looking forward to a sweltering vacation filled with fun and self-discovery.

Unfortunately, another resident of Shadyside is possessed by devilishly dark thoughts and the teenagers’ screams of delight quickly turn to cries for help as the killer goes on the rampage.

The concluding instalment, Part 3: 1666, is released on July 16.

Biohackers - Season 2 starring Luna Wedler as Mia and Adrian Julius Tillmann as Jasper

Biohackers – Season 2 (6 episodes, streaming from July 9 exclusively on Netflix, Thriller/Sci-Fi)

Created by Christian Ditter, high-tech German thriller Biohackers reboots on Netflix this week after a successful opening run last year, which followed University of Freiburg medical student Mia Akerlund (Luna Wedler) as she unravels the truth about her brother’s death.

The first season concluded with Mia meeting her mysterious informant before she was seized by figures dressed in black.

In these six episodes, Mia has no recollection of her abduction and is blissfully unaware that her life is in danger until she discovers a message she has scrawled to her future self.

To solve the mystery of her disappearance, a discombobulated Mia will have to join forces with the woman she trusts the least, Professor Tanja Lorenz (Jessica Schwarz).

The Water Man. Pictured: Lonnie Chavis as Gunner Boone and Amiah Miller as Jo Riley

The Water Man (Cert 12, 92 mins, streaming from July 9 exclusively on Netflix, Drama/Adventure/Romance)

Oxford-born actor David Oyelowo makes his feature directorial debut with a modern-day fairytale told from the perspective of an 11-year-old hero, which draws comparisons with A Monster Calls.

Ardent Sherlock Holmes fan Gunner Boone (Lonnie Chavis) prefers to live in his imagination and in the drawings of his graphic novel than confront the possibility that his mother Mary (Rosario Dawson) could lose her hard-fought battle against leukaemia.

The boy struggles to connect with his father Amos (Oyelowo), who serves in the military and is away from home for extended periods.

When Gunner learns about the local legend of the Water Man, who supposedly possesses the secret to immortality, he glimpses a chance to cure Mary.

Accompanied by a local girl named Jo (Amiah Miller), Gunner ventures deep into the remote Wild Horse forest in search of the mythical figure, oblivious to the dangers of the untamed wilderness.

 

SAS: Red Notice. Pictured: Ruby Rose as Grace Lewis and Sam Heughan as Tom Buckingham

SAS: Red Notice (Cert 15, 124 mins, Sky Cinema/Universal Pictures (UK) Ltd, available now on NOW TV, available from July 12 on DVD £19.99/Blu-ray £26.99, Thriller/Action/Romance)

Award-winning Outlander star Sam Heughan headlines an action thriller adapted from Andy McNab’s 2012 novel, which introduces the recurring character of MI5 operative Sergeant Tom Buckingham.

In Red Notice, Buckingham (Heughan) heads to Paris on Eurostar for a romantic sojourn with his girlfriend Sophie Hart (Hannah John-Kamen).

Alas, the train is hijacked by a rogue paramilitary group called the Black Swans led by Grace Lewis (Ruby Rose), who has been deemed expendable by the British government.

Lewis and her associates intend to blow up the Channel Tunnel.

The only person standing in their villainous way is Buckingham and he unleashes subterranean fury.

Virgin River - Season 3. Pictured: Alexandra Breckenridge as Mel Monroe and Martin Henderson as Jack Sheridan

Virgin River – Season 3 (10 episodes, streaming from July 9 exclusively on Netflix, Drama/Romance)

The romantic drama based on the Virgin River novels by Robyn Carr returns to Netflix this week after the series two cliffhanger of former US marine and bar owner Jack Sheridan (Martin Henderson) bleeding out from a gunshot wound.

In these 10 instalments, nurse practitioner and midwife Melinda Monroe (Alexandra Breckenridge) struggles to process almost losing Jack as the hunt for the shooter begins in earnest to prevent Jack taking the law into his own hands.

He focuses on strengthening his relationship with Mel but the emotional trauma of the shooting brings back painful memories of losing her husband Mark.

Long Weekend. Pictured: Finn Wittrock as Bart and Zoe Chao as Vienna

Long Weekend (Cert 15, 91 mins, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, available from July 12 on Amazon Prime Video/BT TV Store/iTunes/Sky Store/TalkTalk TV Store and other download and streaming services, Romance/Drama/Sci-Fi)

Two strangers are brought together in the nick of time in writer-director Steve Basilone’s romantic drama.

Down-on-his-luck novelist Bart (Finn Wittrock) is dumped by his girlfriend and he temporarily moves in with best friend Doug (Damon Wayans Jr) and his family.

In the midst of depression, Bart meets an enigmatic woman called Vienna (Zoe Chao) whose behaviour is deeply perplexing.

She dodges Bart’s questions about her past and when he finally manages to pin her down, Vienna drops a bombshell.

She claims to have travelled back in time more than 30 years to exploit her knowledge of future events for financial gain.

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