DON'T LET GO (PG)
A grief-stricken homicide detective warps the linear flow of time to solve his brother's murder-suicide in Jacob Aaron Estes's confidently executed thriller.
Bolted together with familiar genre tropes, Don't Let Go is anchored by compelling performances from Oxford-born David Oyelowo as the crusading cop and 16-year-old Storm Reid as his plucky niece, who is blissfully unaware of her grisly destiny.
Estes's script eschews deep, metaphysical discourse about fate to calmly explain every narrative twist, hand-holding the audience so no-one gets left behind making sense of the film's gnarly logic.
The writer-director intentionally obscures key facts until a breathless final act when a mosaic of flashbacks and cross cuts between interconnected time frames neatly slots into place the pieces of the puzzle.
Tension is curiously absent from the second half, given the perilously high stakes, and the supporting cast including Alfred Molina are merely servants of the well-oiled plot.
THE FAREWELL (PG)
Drawn from the personal experience of writer-director Lulu Wang - an opening title card pithily declares the film is "based on an actual lie" - The Farewell is a poignant comedy drama about a family reunion in the shadow of terminal illness.
The script treads carefully, eschewing brazen tear-jerking with a deeply satisfying amalgamation of wry humour and raw, heartfelt disclosure to loosen the knots of tension between different generations of a Chinese clan.Tugs of war between east and west, tradition and modernity provide plentiful food for thought as comic whirlwind Awkwafina (Crazy Rich Asians) delivers a terrific dramatic performance as a doting granddaughter, who struggles to conceal her feelings as she returns to the land of her birth after more than 20 years in America.
The copious tears that fall are honestly earned.