EMPIRE OF LIGHT – Review by Diane Carson

Empire of Light is a love letter to 1980s cinema. Writer/director Sam Mendes goes behind the scenes to reveal the lives of those who whisked viewers into another world while battling their own demons and society’s racism, sexual predation, and mental health struggles. Behind the glimmer and glamor of that magical theater and blinding projector’s light existed a real, troubled world from which imagination offered escape, the establishment of a surrogate, supportive family.

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EMPIRE OF LIGHT (TIFF 2022) – Review by Cate Marquis

Empire of Light takes place in a grand old movie theater that is now slowly fading away in early 1980s, with a loyal movie-loving staff still selling tickets and popcorn to dwindling audiences. You would expect such a movie to be a love letter to the movies, or at least old movie theaters, fondly recalling the glory days of actual film on reels and the magic of movies. Writer/director Sam Mendes’ nostalgic drama does start out that way, but then it drifts off into something else, a plot touching on mental illness and racial tensions in the 1980s, and involving a May-October romance.

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