‘Magpie’ Review — Forget Star Wars, This Is Daisy Ridley At Her Best

Movies


The Big Picture

  • Daisy Ridley shines in
    Magpie
    with a perfectly calibrated performance.
  • The thriller builds to an outstanding ending that ties everything together perfectly.
  • Ridley’s intense, emotional, and humorous portrayal elevates the film beyond being a disposable thriller.


There is nothing quite as fun as seeing a talented performer really go for it. When they’re as great as Daisy Ridley and given the room to work, all bets are off. Magpie triumphantly showcases this, as she gives one of her best performances to date. Sure, there was the underrated Sometimes I Think About Dying from earlier this year, and the first two entries in the Star Wars trilogy she helmed weren’t too bad. However, nothing has seen her get to flex her acting muscles quite like what she has done here in complete synchronicity with director Sam Yates as well as writer Tom Bateman, Ridley’s husband and collaborator.


A thriller that starts solidly enough and picks up steam before blowing the doors off with an outstanding ending, Magpie is one of those rare films that feels both fresh and alive while building off classic genre works of the past. More than anything, it cements Ridley as a screen presence without compare, as she makes a meal of this dark madcap of a movie that all rides on her shoulders. Who even really needs Star Wars, anyway?



What Is ‘Magpie’ About?

The film opens with a shot of the loving though lonely matriarch Anette (Ridley) as she helps her daughter Matilda (Hiba Ahmed) seemingly prepare for an audition for a part in a big historical drama movie. This is a scene whose framing will be mirrored ever so slightly in the story’s delightful end, but, before the film reaches that point, there is a long road that hurtles through the chaos of an unbalanced marriage first. Despite Anette being there while her husband Ben (Shazad Latif) remains distant, he gets to swoop in for the celebration when Matilda gets the part.

Instead, Anette is tasked with caring for their newborn baby, who seems to never stop crying, alone. This is merely the beginning of how Ben is useless at best and cruel at worst. Despite putting her life on hold for his writing career, which has seemingly stalled, he doesn’t seem to care in the slightest about Anette and what she wants for her future. When he begins to travel to the set with Matilda, he strikes up what quickly becomes a relationship with a famous actress, Alicia (Matilda Lutz), which teeters on the edge of infidelity. Oh, and she happens to be playing Matilda’s mother. If this sounds messy, just wait: this is merely the first course of what Magpie has in store. What that entails requires being coy, as it would be a crime to even hint at what it is that this is all building to and spoil all the fun to be had.


When Anette begins to piece together what is going on, the film shifts into being a dark delight of a thriller that, while not wholly surprising for those familiar with how these stories often go, is spectacular all the same. Most importantly, it sees Ridley giving a performance that is so devilishly well-calibrated and playful that you just can’t help but smile as Magpie takes increasing leaps while she remains grounded in her complete command of the character. Every sly change in expression or cutting line is akin to executing a highwire act without missing a single step. The way Ridley can turn even the most simple of her line deliveries into an opportunity for a devastating teardown of the husband Anette is saddled with is a joy. Whenever she is on-screen, there isn’t a moment where you aren’t completely swept up in it.


While credit must be given to Bateman for the film’s perfectly prickly dialogue and Yates for constructing scenes for maximum impact, Ridley fully embracing every scene she has makes it all work. The precise way her character goes from embodying silent rage while standing alone in front of a mirror, a recurrent visual motif that increasingly plays up the film’s dark humor, to a steely determination to turn the tables on her husband is just good fun.

‘Magpie’ Builds to a Magnificent Ending

Image via SXSW

Even when Magpie starts to feel like it is coming a bit too close to playing some familiar notes in the middle, any remaining doubts are completely thrown out the window when all the cards are laid on the table. Not only does the film serve up a delicious final course that ties everything together perfectly, but it also gives Ridley a great closing scene. While it could have used a few more moments like it scattered throughout, that is a passing trifle when the final minutes are completely and utterly terrific.


Through it all, Ridley brings the right intensity, emotion, and humor to every situation. What could be dismissed as just a disposable, trashy thriller is so well-constructed and acted that you’re completely won over. Whatever Ridley wants to do next, let this be proof that she should be able to do it. There may be more of that aforementioned space franchise in her future, but let that never crowd out the chance for her to do more projects like Magpie. When Ridley is given the chance to hold a film like this in her hands, it all flies high.

Magpie 2024 Film Promo Image

Magpie (2024)

REVIEW

Magpie is a spectacular showcase for Daisy Ridley that starts solidly enough before blowing the doors off in a magnificent conclusion.

A couple find their lives turned upside down when their daughter is cast alongside a controversial major star.

Pros

  • Daisy Ridley gives one of her best performances to date, capturing every moment that the film calls for with ease.
  • The film’s lines are so perfectly prickly and well-delivered that they land with maximum impact.
  • The story culminates in a great ending that gives one last chance for Ridley to make a meal of the movie.
Cons

  • There are some moments in the middle that come close to falling into repetition.

Magpie had its World Premiere at the 2024 SXSW Film & TV Festival.



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