Geoff Cox’s guide to new DVDs: Comes A Bright Day, The Flowers of War

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A LONDON hotel porter finds himself thrown into a hostage situation with the girl of his dreams in COMES A BRIGHT DAY (15: Sony).

This British thriller with romantic undertones is an ambitious but flawed feature film debut from commercials veteran Simon Aboud.

Sam Smith (Submarine’s Craig Roberts) has a menial job as a bellboy, but he’s convinced he will make something of his life and plans to open a restaurant one day.

He pretends he’s grander than he is to impress jewellery shop assistant Mary Bright (Imogen Poots).

She works at one of London’s most exclusive jewellers and Sam hopes to get a glimpse of the good life while running an errand there.

But he gets a lot more than he bargained for when he’s caught up in an armed robbery orchestrated by the psychopathic Cameron (Kevin McKidd).

Sam, Mary and her boss Charlie (Timothy Spall) are taken hostage during the bungled raid. Will love blossom amidst the danger?

As one might expect of an advertising director, Aboud’s visuals are excellent, but he struggles to cope with the shifts in tone between coy romance and gun-toting thriller.

The street shoot-out sequences are amateurish and much of the dialogue is overwritten, although Roberts and Poots make a quaint couple and Spall is typically engaging.

> Far removed from his role in the new Batman movie, Christian Bale plays an American mortician in Chinese historical drama THE FLOWERS OF WAR (15: Revolver).

Directed by Yimou (Hero, House Of Flying Daggers) Zhang, the film is set in 1937 during the Japanese army’s notorious ‘Rape of Nanjing’.

Sent there to bury the foreign head-priest of a convent for Catholic girls, John Miller (Bale) arrives shortly after the city is bombed and invaded by Japanese soldiers.

He and his group of resident teenage schoolgirls soon find themselves thrown together with some local prostitutes who turn up at the convent seeking shelter from the pillaging troops.

After hiding the prostitutes in the cellar, Miller, posing as the convent’s priest, embarks on a desperate plan to prevent the schoolgirls from falling into the hands of the marauders.

> British horror flick THE REVEREND (18: Metrodome) follows the attempts of a priest, stalked by the threat of vampirism, to clean up his parish.

The Reverend (Stuart Brennan), having graduated from religious school, is pleased to be handed a small country parish to look after and sees it as an opportunity to implement his views on how people should live.

Unknown to him, however, he is the subject of a wager set by a mysterious figure (Rutger Hauer), who wants to demonstrate how easy it is to corrupt a good man.

The Reverend is visited by a strange girl, who bites him when he tries to alleviate her coldness and distress, infecting the preacher with a form of vampirism. But rather than using his new powers to prey on others, the Reverend is determined to employ them to clean up his community by declaring war on those who try to corrupt and exploit.

> Poignant and charming, French comedy DELICACY (12: Studio Canal) stars Audrey Tautou as young widow Nathalie.

She puts everything into her work after the sudden death of her perfect partner in a hit-and-run accident, only to cause a sensation by throwing herself at an unlikely colleague, Markus (Francois Damiens), who’s balding, a drab dresser and a bit funny-looking and awkward.

A tentative relationship develops between them, to the bewilderment of their colleagues and frustration of her amorous boss. This romance will strike a chord with anyone who has loved and lost, and its optimistic message lingers in the memory.

> Moscow is the setting for Hollywood alien-invasion yarn THE DARKEST HOUR (12: Twentieth Century Fox), which tracks two software entrepreneurs (Emile Hirsch and Max Minghella) as they hide out with tourists after invisible beasties with a ruthless line on molecular disintegration lay waste to planet Earth.

The survivors shelter in a cellar for a few days, but then things get predictable after they venture out into the devastated Russian capital.