The trailer for Sam Mendes’ new romance drama Empire of Light is basically a slideshow of Olivia Colman crying in different scenarios.
“I do feel a bit numb, I suppose,” Colman’s character, Hilary, says at the beginning of the trailer. Colman stars in Empire of Light as a sad movie theater manager who soon becomes giddy over the theater’s new employee, played by Michael Ward.
Her numbness soon gives way to pangs of emotion which involve, in order of appearance: Olivia Colman scream-crying while holding a precariously-sloshy glass of wine; Olivia Colman silent-crying, eyes mascara-smudged, as someone bangs on the door begging to be let in, just before the police burst through; and finally, Olivia Colman smile-crying what appear to be bittersweet tears, eyes glued to the screen, alone in an empty movie theater.
It’s enough to make one nostalgic for the days when movie-going didn’t play second-fiddle to streaming Netflix at home on TV — and to go see Empire of Light in an actual theater.
Of course, Colman does laugh in this trailer, too, and she even smiles — mostly when in the company of Michael Ward’s character Stephen.
The Searchlight Pictures film takes place in a coastal town in 1980s England, examining the power of human connection during turbulent times. In theaters Dec. 9, the cast also features Tom Brooke, Tanya Moodie, Hannah Onslow, Crystal Clarke, Toby Jones, and Colin Firth.
“Don’t let them tell you what you can or can’t do,” Colman says in the trailer.
Empire of Light is Sam Mendes’ most recent stint in the director’s chair since his Oscar-winning 2019 film 1917 starring George MacKay, Daniel Mays, Dean-Charles Chapman, and Colin Firth. Mendes previously won the Oscar for Best Director Oscar for 1999’s American Beauty starring Kevin Spacey, Annette Benning, and Thora Birch. This is also Mendes’ first time both writing and directing.
Watch the trailer above.
Main Image: Olivia Colman in Empire of Light. Credit: Searchlight Pictures.