Capsule Movie Reviews (Apr. 23): 'A Promise' and four more

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A Promise
NOT RATED, 1 HR., 35 MINS.
Director Patrice Leconte seems to have cribbed from the Merchant Ivory playbook for a lukewarm tale of repressed desire set in 1912 Germany, where a young engineer (Richard Madden) comes between his sickly boss (Alan Rickman) and his wife (Rebecca Hall). It’s well made but drearily familiar, what with its stolen glances and pleas of “No, we mustn’t!” (Also available on VOD) B-Chris Nashawaty

NEW RELEASE
Blue Ruin
R, 1 HR., 32 MINS.
Revenge is a dish best served cold, and the same can go for revenge movies. Looking more like a middle manager than Charles Bronson, social outcast Dwight (Macon Blair) seeks to avenge his parents’ murder but finds it a lot messier than he expected. With the same brand of realist irony the Coens used to cool down Blood Simple, writer-director Jeremy Saulnier slows the genre’s heartbeat to gripping effect. (Also available on VOD) A-Keith Staskiewicz

NEW RELEASE
Bright Days Ahead
NOT RATED, 1 HR., 34 MINS.
Adultery is to French cinema what latexed superheroes are to American, so the surprise in Bright Days is not so much that Caroline (Fanny Ardant), the world’s most luminous retired dentist, finds romance at the local senior center — it’s that she finds it with Julien (Laurent Lafitte), a young tech instructor with soulful eyes and complicated facial hair. The script is wispy, but the performances (including Patrick Chesnais as Caroline’s prideful, devastated husband) shine. (Also available on iTunes and VOD) B+Leah Greenblatt

NEW RELEASE
The German Doctor
PG-13, 1 HR., 33 MINS.
A soft-spoken foreigner with promises of scientific miracles turns out to be evil incarnate in an Argentine drama that imagines what happened when Josef Mengele, the Nazi physician notorious for his experiments on humans, hid in Patagonia in 1960. The family he preys on is a tad too unsuspecting to be believable, but the film still hits notes of deep tension. And the cast is superb, especially Àlex Brendemühl as the “Angel of Death” himself. B+Missy Schwartz

NEW RELEASE
Last Passenger
R, 1 HR., 37 MINS.
A motley batch of riders (including Dougray Scott) realize something isn’t quite right with their train in a thriller that’s a little bit The Lady Vanishes and a big bit Speed on a railway. The story chugs along its established track at a quick clip, but there are few surprises and the film reaches its terminus without ever managing to punch your ticket. C+Keith Staskiewicz

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