Save The Cinema is Sky TV’s latest foray into original movies and is based on the true story of one woman’s campaign to save a cinema/theatre in the town of Carmarthen, Wales.
Writers Piers Ashworth (“Blithe Spirit”, “Burke and Hare”) and Lorraine King have taken some liberties with the true story of the Lyric, but it’s all for dramatic effect and a smattering of laughs.
Liz runs the Carmarthen youth group, as well as putting on the performances at the Lyric, she also runs one of the town’s hairdressing salons too. Her performances are popular, even the Mayor Tom Jenkins, Adeel Akhtar (“Enola Holmes”, “Killing Eve (TV)”), has his kids in the plays.
The Mayor is also happy to take a backhander or two to enable people to get what they want, which is where Martyn, Colm Meaney (“It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (TV)”, “Gangs of London (TV)”), comes in and his plan to demolish the Lyric and put a shopping centre there.
The pair have a plan but need the latest member of the council, Carmarthen postman Richard Goodridge, Tom Felton (“Origin (TV)”, “The Flash (TV)”), to vote their way, whilst the naïve Richard just wants to fulfil his late fathers plans of an adult education centre in the town.
The vote passes and the Mayor is eager to move as quickly as possible, should anyone begin to ask questions around why they’re trying to demolish a listed building for instance. However, he hasn’t reckoned on Liz who says she’ll delay him by dragging it through the courts. He offers her a month, put on a last play, then get out.
Despite putting on her last show she can’t bear to be without the Lyric and begins a sit-in, even running her salon from the theatre. The Mayor does what he can to get her out but each time someone from the town comes to her rescue.
Whether it’s Mr. Morgan, Jonathan Pryce (“The Crown (TV)”, “The Two Popes”), the old projectionist who puts on a movie for everyone (in which we see a cameo from Wynne Evans, who UK readers will know as the Go Compare guy and is Liz Evans’ son in real life), or Goodridge jumping on a wrecking ball to prevent some underhand tactics or the Mayor’s own secretary, Susan, Erin Richards (“Gotham (TV)”, “That Good Night”), masquerading as a lawyer to the police, the whole town begins to rally around the theatre.
The movie isn’t enough though and Liz and her boys decide on Jurassic Park as the one that will really save the Lyric. There’s just one problem, the distributors won’t give the film to a cinema that’s about to be demolished.
Never one to take no for an answer Liz goes “straight to the top” and writes a letter to Steven Spielberg asking if he can help save the cinema. The letter reaches him and he provides his own copy of the movie and says they can show it three minutes after the London premiere.
Not to be outdone, Liz alters the clocks in the theatre and, on the 15th July 1993, five minutes before the London premiere of Steven Spielberg’s blockbuster Jurassic Park was shown, the Lyric theatre in Carmarthen, Wales showed the movie.
Save The Cinema, directed by Sara Sugarman (“EastEnders (TV)”, “Vinyl”), is a nice movie, it has all the heart and warmth you expect from this sort of movie along with a few cheeky laughs and some poignant moments too.
The first half does feel a little on the slow side, although we are very quickly into the cinema decision and Liz’s campaign to save it, but there’s a lot of segments of the stage shows that are put on coupled with long, lingering looks around the building. I know why they are in the movie, they just slow things down a bit too much.
Otherwise Save The Cinema is a lovely, feel-good movie on these cold, January nights.
14th January 2021
THE QUICK SELL
The story of Liz Evans, who lives in Carmarthen South West Wales, who starts a campaign in the 90s to save the Lyric Cinema.