Annihilation review – forget Kevin Hart: Natalie Portman star vehicle is dead

Kevin Hart’s career – both as a comedy comedian and as a serious actor – has both flourished thanks to his accessibility. It’s been characterised by the star’s use of material taken from his life, often in shaded ways. It’s a space that’s helped the 42-year-old avoid the shadows cast by fellow comics such as Louis CK who have been accused of sexual assault.

True Story (15)

Oscars 2019 best original screenplay: True story – read the full list Read more

True Story tells the true story of Hart’s failed attempt to train and then befriend a star swimmer during the 1996 US Olympic Games in Atlanta. Directed by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa – the duo behind the great Crazy, Stupid, Love – the film has a faux documentary style but never manages to loosen the tension of a storyline that otherwise feels curiously familiar. It’s a movie that should have thrived with its offbeat premise and Oscar nominations, but fails to land in the right bag with many critics. “As a symbol of Hart’s promotion of a healthy lifestyle, True Story is completely and utterly misguided,” writes the Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw.

Deadline’s Peter Debruge concludes: “Given Hart’s recent troubles, this needs to be treasured as the funniest movie he’s ever directed.”

With Hart’s success in the comedy stakes, it could be seen as an opportunity to push the buttons with a more subtleised performance that exposes his character’s desperation and flaws. However, it doesn’t achieve that, and has instead felt like a loss. “I didn’t care for True Story, and I know that sounds harsh,” says The Telegraph’s Robbie Collin. “And, having seen the film in its entirety, I still don’t. Hart’s failures as a director appear to be the same ones that stopped him getting a starring role in The Wedding Ringer.”

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