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Wishes, Politics, & Expatriates Shine On The Small Screen ~ At The Movies With Kasey

Whether you are in the mood for a classic romcom, a bizarre satire, or a moody miniseries, the major streamers have new content for you.

In Netflix’s Irish Wish, Maddie (Lindsay Lohan) has fallen in love with an author whose book she edited so well she basically wrote a best seller for him. The writer, Paul Kennedy (Alexander Vlahos) falls for one of her best friends, Emma (Elizabeth Tan). In Ireland for their wedding, Maddie is granted a wish by Saint Brigid (Dan Bradfield) and gets to see what it would be like if she was the one marrying Paul instead. Ayesha Curry also stars as Maddie’s friend, Heather, and Ed Speleers plays a charming but aloof photographer.

Irish Wish centers on a weird myth jammed into a pretty pedestrian rom-com setup, but where the story goes is less predictable than expected. The first act establishes a mess of personal and professional stakes, as Maddie pines for someone whose business partnership is good for her career but also keeps her from her dream of writing a novel. These connected and conflicting desires provide a solid base for the story, but I wish the third act had dwelled more on these motives than on Maddie’s friendships.

The theme of caring for a friend’s happiness is nice, but none of the friends in the film have much chemistry with each other. Heather and Emma do not feel real, due partly to wooden performances and partly to weak character development. That Emma functions as a plot device undermines the importance of her relationship with Maddie and her place in the plot.

Maybe I am asking too much for a movie in the made-for-tv mold. Lindsay Lohan performs much better than in her last Netflix romp, giving her character an awkward but loveable quality. The costumes and sets are vibrant and textured. The plot is silly but fun. I would not be disappointed to see Lohan steadily starring in movies like this, building a career similar to Candice Cameron Bure or Lacey Chabert.

Irish Wish was written by Kirsten Hansen and directed by Janeen Damian. It runs 93 minutes and is rated TV-PG.

On Max, The Regime depicts the tumultuous rule of Chancellor Elena Vernham (Kate Winslet), the eccentric leader of a central European nation. Since the death of her father, she has kept him in a glass coffin and grown increasingly consumed with fears of mold causing her untimely demise. When a new staffer, Corporal Herbert Zubak (Mattias Schoenaerts), arrives, he persuades her to upend her inner circle and foreign policy, causing problems for the country, as well as her husband, Nicolas (Guillaume Gallienne), and the head of the household staff, Agnes (Andrea Riseborough).

In our historical moment, The Regime feels especially cheeky. There is an absurd quality to Elena’s antics and rituals, but she makes you wonder what goes on behind other mansion doors. Kate Winslet expertly portrays Elena as neurotic, but not stupid or mercenary, at least at first. She also gives her distinct mannerisms, like talking out of one downturned side of her mouth, that make Elena feel distinct. It’s a brilliant performance, and the ensemble surrounds her with a rich community of yes-men, politicians, and soldiers, all trying to make sense of her whims.

With its dry sense of humor, brilliant acting, and luscious production quality, I cannot wait to see what happens in the second half of The Regime.

The Regime was created by Will Tracy. It runs for six episodes, three of which have aired as of this writing, and is rated TV-MA.

Finally, on Amazon Prime, Expats focuses on a group of expatriates living in Hong Kong in the aftermath of a kidnapping. As Margaret (Nicole Kidman) and Clarke (Brian Tee) cope with the loss of their son, Mercy (Yoo Ji-young) struggles with feeling cursed, and Hilary (Sarayu Blue) and David (Jack Huston) navigate their crumbling marriage. As the limited series unfolds, the audience sees how their lives intertwine with each other and those of the many domestic servants who underpin the privilege of the expat community.

Expats uses its setting advantageously, portraying expensive real estate, street markets, cheap apartments by the highway, and sunny beaches. The sets create a stunning backdrop for a story that dwells on class distinctions, especially in the cinematic fifth episode, which brings the household helpers out of the background but uses a language barrier to emphasize the feigned invisibleness of their roles. Little details are crucial to the story, but people like Margaret and Hilary often overlook the people right in front of them.

As Margaret, Nicole Kidman gives a boring performance, but Sarayu Blue steals the show as Hilary. Her angst about her marriage and fertility provides some of the most memorable scenes, especially when she gets stuck in an elevator with her overbearing mother (Sudha Bhuchar) and shy neighbor (Jennifer Beveridge).
The central plot of Expats quickly loses steam, but the ensemble makes each character’s story engaging. That tapestry of experiences kept me watching to the end.

Expats was created by Lulu Wang. It runs for six episodes and is rated TV-MA.

Kasey Butcher

Kasey Butcher

She is proud to be a Ft. Wayne native, a graduate of Homestead HS, Ball State University & Miami University. She became involved with journalism editor-in-chief for her high school magazine. She authors the "At The Movies with Kasey Butcher" review. > Read Full Biography > More Articles Written By This Writer