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 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Tuesday December 3, 2019 


Legendary talk-show host Katherine Newberry (Emma Thompson) is a pioneer in her field. The only woman ever to have a long-running program on late night, she keeps her writers’ room on a short leash - and all male. But when her ratings plummet and she is accused of being a ‘woman who hates women’, Katherine puts gender equality on her to-do list and impulsively hires Molly Patel (Mindy Kaling), a chemical plant efficiency expert from Pennsylvania, as the first and only female on her writing staff.

Review by Louise Keller:
Late Night is smart, sassy and funny. Just like its leading lady, Emma Thompson, who devours the role of late-night TV host and spits out crackle and pop. The pairing of Thompson and writer, co-star Mindy Kaling is perfect both in terms of set up, characterization and performance. Kaling has written an engaging screenplay in which age, gender and diversity in the workplace are centre of focus and where listening, embracing and positive action reap their rewards. There are some funny lines but most of the humour results from character and situations - like an ongoing ripple. The film flows without being predictable. Uplifting and highly enjoyable, Late Night is fresh, great fun and offers a Great Night out.

The unconventional way Kaling's former chemical plant worker Molly finds herself sitting on an upside-down rubbish bin in the TV show's all-male screenwriters' room makes for a good start. It is a surprise; one of many and there is a nice sense of the ridiculous throughout. We are immediately drawn to Molly and her disarmingly unselfconscious persona. Thompson as Katherine is a version of Meryl Streep from The Devil Wears Prada. She looks as though she could eat any one of her writers for breakfast. The fact that she has never even met the writers who have provided her with lines over the years offers comic opportunities; there's a nice payoff to the running gag in which she refers to them by number instead of name.

Katherine buckles down to address her career crisis by replacing politician guests with YouTube sensations, sometimes with disastrous results. There are side plots involving Katherine's husband (John Lithgow), a personal scandal and of course the burgeoning relationship with Molly, which holds our attention right until the last frame.

The exposition flows and the fact that the film's reality is set behind the scenes of a television talk show makes us feel as though we are a fly on the wall. The film is timely, uplifting and delivers a positive message, while Thompson carries the film with ease and assurance, managing the elements of both comedy and drama with equal conviction.

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(US, 2019)

CAST: Emma Thompson, Mindy Kaling, John Lithgow, Hugh Dancy, Reid Scott, Denis O'Hare, Max Casella

PRODUCER: Jillian Apfelbaum, Ben Browning, Mindy Kaling, Howard Klein

DIRECTOR: Nisha Ganatra

SCRIPT: Mindy Kaling


EDITOR: Eleanor Infante, David Rogers

MUSIC: Lesley Barber


RUNNING TIME: 102 minutes



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