Empire of Light | 2022 | R | – 6.4.7
A woman (Olivia Colman) struggling with mental illness while managing a movie theater on the coast of England during the 1980s, falls for a younger man (Micheal Ward), hoping to find happiness. The culture is also in transition, as movie theaters are no longer grand places of dreams, and racism and xenophobia are on the rise. Also with Colin Firth, Toby Jones, Tom Brooke, Tanya Moodie, Hannah Onslow, Crystal Clarke, Monica Dolan, Ron Cook, Sara Stewart and Justin Edwards. Directed by Sam Mendes. [Running Time: 1:59]
Empire of Light SEX/NUDITY 6
– A young man and a woman kiss passionately, they lean against a wall and she directs his hand under her skirt; he thrusts and they moan and breathe rhythmically (no flesh is visible). A woman straddles a young man’s lap and thrusts while he sits in a booth in an empty restaurant (no nudity is evident). A man and a woman are shown in the man’s office as the woman masturbates the man; we hear him moaning and breathing and he asks her to continue orally but she does not do so.
► A man and a woman kiss and lean back on a cabinet, the man lifts the woman’s skirt and he kisses her neck until she stops him and he asks, “Who’s it hurting?” and the woman replies, “Your wife for one.” A woman tells a young man to kiss her and he looks around; she says, “No one’s looking.” A woman kisses a young man, pulls away and runs out of the room. A young man and a young woman kiss. A woman and a young man hug farewell.
► A man chases a woman as she leaves a theater and they argue; the man’s wife asks what’s going on and the first woman tells her that she and her husband are having an affair (using crude sexual terms). A man asks a woman to come to his office (implied for sex) and she says no in front of other employees in the room, who seem to know what’s going on. A woman talks about her father having sex with his secretary and that she could smell the sex on him. A man says that his wife no longer loves him and that they sleep in separate rooms. A young woman says that a young man is “such a hunk.” A man tells a woman that she should leave her personal life at home when staff in a movie theater suspects that she and a young man are having a relationship.
► A young man sits with his arm around a woman’s shoulders as she sleeps on a bus; the young man moves his arm when another man looks at them. Men and women dance in a dance school setting.
► A young man and a woman undress to change into swimsuits; the young man runs nude toward the ocean and we see his bare back, buttocks and legs while the woman wears a blanket wrapped around her and we see her bare shoulders and cleavage. A woman sits in a bathtub and we see her bare shoulders. A young woman wears a short skirt that reveals her legs to the upper thighs. A woman’s blouse reveals cleavage in a couple of scenes. A woman wears a full slip that reveals cleavage and her bare shoulders in a couple of scenes. Women wear evening gowns that reveal cleavage at a movie premier.
Empire of Light VIOLENCE/GORE 4
– Many people on motorcycles and on foot march outside a theater and chant, “White is right,” and yell about their jobs being taken by others; they pound on the doors of a movie theater and break the glass on one door, charge in and argue with a young man, they fight and he falls to the floor where he is beaten and kicked (we see him lying motionless with blood on his head and face), a woman is also knocked to the floor and a man is threatened with a pole; we see the young man in the hospital later and hear that he had broken ribs, a concussion and a couple of teeth were knocked out. Three men tease and shove a young man as he walks on a sidewalk; they tell him to go back where he came from, call out racial slurs and stop when two police officers walk toward them.
► A woman becomes upset when a young man tells her about a previous relationship and then asks her about her previous romantic involvement; she yells at him saying, “It’s none of your business,” destroys a sandcastle that they have been working on together, and yells about men having their hands around women’s throats as she kicks and stomps on the sand structure. Police and social services representative knock on the door of a woman’s apartment; they pound on the door and eventually break it open as the woman sits on a chair and is then escorted out and we understand she is taken to a psychiatric hospital. A young man tells a woman that they should stop seeing each other and she kisses him on the cheek, goes home and lies on the floor weeping. A man chases a woman as she leaves a theater and they argue; the man’s wife asks what’s going on and the first woman tells her that she and her husband are having an affair (using crude sexual terms). A woman yells at a young man to leave her apartment.
► A young man tells a movie theater patron that he cannot take food into the theater; the man confronts him and becomes upset asking, “Are you serious? I’m gonna be bossed around by this…,” [implying a racial slur] shoving French fries into his mouth, drinks his cup of tea quickly, and goes in (some liquid dribbles down his chin and onto his shirt). A young man talks about racism getting worse. A man tells a young man that a woman had a breakdown and she yelled at customers and did some weird things. A man says that his son doesn’t want to see him and he hasn’t seen him since the child was 8-years old. A young man mocks an elderly man that shuffles when he walks and a young woman laughs along with him; the young man is later reprimanded by his boss. A woman makes an unplanned speech at a movie premier and a man reprimands her for embarrassing him. A man yells at a young woman for taking a break and tells her that she should get back to work. A woman becomes uncomfortable when a man and his wife enter a restaurant and are seated near her (she leaves the restaurant). We hear that a woman threatened to break a man’s windows with a golf club. A woman talks about her father having sex with his secretary and that she could smell the sex on him; she says that her mother took out her frustration on her when she was a child.
► People in a movie theater discuss what they have found while cleaning up after shows and one says that he found a popcorn bucket filled with vomit; another person says that she found a dead body and says that he died from a heart attack. A doctor tells a woman that her increase in weight is not ideal. A doctor asks a woman about mood swings. A young man says, “I puked on my new shoes.”
► A young man falls down several times while roller-skating (we do not see any injuries). A woman showers and we see blood on her hands after an attack in a movie theater. Birds flutter around inside an unused room in a movie theater and a young man discovers an injured bird that he wraps with a bandage; we see the bird recovered later and it flies away. After wrapping a bandage around a bird a woman asks, “What happens when he needs the loo?”
Empire of Light LANGUAGE 7
– About 29 F-words, 4 sexual references, 8 scatological terms, 3 anatomical terms, 5 mild obscenities, 6 derogatory terms for Black people, name-calling (tosser, boring, awful, sleepers, vulgar, coward, nutter, unemployable, embarrassed, ridiculous, silly, bloody nightmare), exclamations (blimey, bloody, gosh, honestly, oh no, calm down, oh wow, goodness, buggered off), 12 religious exclamations (e.g. oh my God, oh God, for God’s sake, thank God, Jesus). | profanity glossary |
Empire of Light SUBSTANCE USE
– We understand that a woman is taking Lithium. A glass of wine is shown on a table where a woman is eating (we do not see her drink), a woman pours a glass of wine in a restaurant and takes a drink, a woman drinks a glass of champagne, and a man and a woman drink glasses of whiskey in the man’s office. Cigarette butts are shown in an ashtray in an office, a man smokes cigarettes in a box office, a man smokes cigarettes in a projection booth, people smoke cigarettes in a movie theater break room in a couple of scenes, and a man and a woman smoke on the stairs outside a movie theater.
Empire of Light DISCUSSION TOPICS
– Mental illness, racism, friendship, depression, giving up, skinheads, revenge, shame, humiliation, Margaret Thatcher, reputation, community.
Empire of Light MESSAGE
– Don’t give up on the life you want to have.
Be aware that while we do our best to avoid spoilers it is impossible to disguise all details and some may reveal crucial plot elements.
We've gone through several editorial changes since we started covering films in 1992 and older reviews are not as complete & accurate as recent ones; we plan to revisit and correct older reviews as resources and time permits.
Our ratings and reviews are based on the theatrically-released versions of films; on video there are often Unrated, Special, Director's Cut or Extended versions, (usually accurately labelled but sometimes mislabeled) released that contain additional content, which we did not review.
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