While “Fifty Shades of Grey” may have dominated the February box office, March is set to bring audiences a love story of an entirely different color. Perhaps the month’s most talked about release is “Cinderella.” Co-written by Aline Brosh McKenna (“Annie,” “The Devil Wears Prada”), the plot stays true to the fairy-tale classic: Young Ella (Lily James) finds herself at the mercy of her evil stepmother (Cate Blanchett), who she must defy in the name of true love.
Of course, not all of next month’s romantic films are as fairy-tale friendly. Written and directed by Ruba Nadda, “October Gale” tells the story of a woman faced with both romance and danger when a mysterious injured man and his would-be killer wash ashore her secluded island, a severe storm trapping them all in the same space. For a more comedic take on romance, Analeine Cal y Mayor’s refreshingly original modern-day coming-of-age love story “Treading Water” follows a young boy convinced he will never find love with his strange medical condition, which leaves him smelling like a fish.
The long awaited second installment of the “Divergent” trilogy will make its way to theaters come March 20th. Bringing some much-needed action to the March lineup, “Insurgent” raises the stakes for Tris (Shailene Woodley) as she faces one impossible challenge after another.
Both slated for a March 27th release, “A Girl Like Her” and “The Riot Club” take us back to the horrors of school. The former, shot as a faux-documentary, follows a young high-school student as she navigates the all-too-prevalent world of senseless bullying. The latter, set at Oxford University, centers on two students who risk everything to join the infamous “Riot Club,” even if it means destroying the lives of others.
On the documentary front, “My Life Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn,” a portrait of the “Drive” and “Only God Forgives” auteur as told by his wife Liv Corfixen, will see its theatrical release at the end of the month.
Here are all the March films written, directed, and/or about women. All descriptions are from press materials unless otherwise indicated.
October Gale – Written and Directed by Ruba Nadda
Toronto doctor Helen Matthews (Patricia Clarkson), mourning the death of her husband, retreats to the isolated island cabin where they’d spent some of their most cherished moments together. Her reverie is cut short when a mysterious man, Will (Scott Speedman), washes ashore with a bullet in his shoulder. As he recuperates, the two develop a tentative connection, though Will refuses to explain what happened. When a severe storm traps them on the island as Will’s would-be killer (Tim Roth) returns, their ability to trust each other then becomes a matter of survival. This film is the story of a couple warily exploring their growing bond under extreme circumstances.
The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Now that The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is full up with its long-term residents, co-managers Muriel Donnelly (Maggie Smith) and Sonny Kapoor (Dev Patel) have a dream of expansion, and they’ve found just the place: The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. With plans underway, Evelyn and Douglas (Judi Dench and Bill Nighy) venture into the Jaipur workforce, wondering where their regular breakfast dates will lead. Meanwhile, Norman and Carol (Ronald Pickup and Diana Hardcastle) navigate the swirling waters of an exclusive relationship, as Madge (Celia Imrie) juggles two very eligible suitors, and recent arrival Guy Chambers (Richard Gere) finds a muse in Sonny’s mother, Mrs. Kapoor (Lillete Dubey) for his next novel. As his marriage to Sunaina (Tina Desai), the love of his life, quickly approaches, Sonny finds his plans for the new hotel making more claims on his time than he has available. Perhaps the only one who may know the answers is Muriel, the keeper of everyone’s secrets. As the big day nears, family and guests alike find themselves swept up in the irresistible intoxication of an Indian wedding.
Grey Gardens (doc) – Co-Directed by Ellen Hovde and Muffie Meyer
Meet Big and Little Edie Beale: mother and daughter, high-society dropouts, and reclusive cousins of Jackie Onassis. The two manage to thrive together amid the decay and disorder of their East Hampton, New York, mansion, making for an eerily ramshackle echo of the American Camelot. An impossibly intimate portrait, this 1976 documentary by Albert and David Maysles, co-directed by Ellen Hovde and Muffie Meyer, quickly became a cult classic and established Little Edie as a fashion icon and philosopher queen. (Press materials)
Cinderella – Co-written by Aline Brosh McKenna
After her father unexpectedly dies, young Ella (Lily James) finds herself at the mercy of her cruel stepmother (Cate Blanchett) and stepsisters, who reduce her to scullery maid. Despite her circumstances, she refuses to despair. An invitation to a palace ball gives Ella hope that she might reunite with the dashing stranger (Richard Madden) she met in the woods, but her stepmother prevents her from going. Help arrives in the form of a kindly beggar woman (Helena Bonham Carter) who has a magic touch for ordinary things.
Several women — independent, strong-willed, beautiful — try to hold on in the world of shifting influences that is New York City. Each struggles to overcome her personal conflicts against the backdrop of greater political struggles and the global Occupy Movements.
Treading Water – Directed & Co-Written by Analeine Cal y Mayor (Opening in New York)
“Treading Water” is a charming and romantic modern-day coming-of-age love story told through the eyes of a sensitive boy who is forced to face life with a rare condition that leaves him smelling like a fish.
With his strange ailment, our young hero Mica (Douglas Smith) sadly grows to accept that he may never find happiness until, as a young boy, he meets Laura (Zoë Kravitz) who seems to not notice Mica’s unique odor and wants to be his friend. Raised by his eccentric mother Sophie (Ariadna Gil) and his unstable father Richard (Don McKellar) who eventually abandons the family, Mica grows up in a house that’s an over-the-top gaudy museum celebrating the renowned Mexican crooner Guillermo Garibai (Gonzalo Vega). Even as Mica’s therapist Catherine (Carrie-Anne Moss) gently guides him through his daily troubles, it becomes more and more obvious that only his childhood crush Laura can actually cure what ails him.
Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter
In this darkly comedic odyssey, Academy Award nominee Rinko Kikuchi (Babel, “Pacific Rim”) stars as Kumiko, a frustrated Office Lady whose imagination transcends the confines of her mundane life. Kumiko becomes obsessed with a mysterious, battered VHS tape of a popular film she’s mistaken for a documentary, fixating on a scene where a suitcase of stolen cash is buried in the desolate, frozen landscape of North Dakota. Believing this treasure to be real, she leaves behind Tokyo and her beloved rabbit Bunzo to recover it — and finds herself on a dangerous adventure unlike anything she’s seen in the movies.
Amour Fou – Directed by Jessica Hausner
Berlin, 1810: a despondent young Romantic poet (Christian Friedel) pines for a woman to join him in a pact to end his despair — and which will be the ultimate expression of their love. He meets the terminally ill Henrietta (Birte Schnoeink), who is fascinated by his controversial novella, “The Marquise of O.” Inspired by the historical events leading to the double suicide of poet/dramatist Heinrich von Kleist (1777-1811) and Henrietta Vogel, Austrian director Jessica Hausner recreates early 19th-century haute-bourgeois Berlin: the hushed drawing rooms, the deliberate rhythms of family life, the period decor and clothing — all suffused with a color scheme worthy of Vermeer.
“Insurgent” raises the stakes for Tris as she searches for allies and answers in the ruins of a futuristic Chicago. Tris (Shailene Woodley) and Four (Theo James) are now fugitives on the run, hunted by Jeanine (Kate Winslet), the leader of the power-hungry Erudite elite. Racing against time, they must find out what Tris’s family sacrificed their lives to protect, and why the Erudite leaders will do anything to stop them. Haunted by her past choices but desperate to protect the ones she loves, Tris, with Four at her side, faces one impossible challenge after another as they unlock the truth about the past and ultimately the future of their world.
She’s Lost Control – Written and Directed by Anja Marquardt
Fiercely independent, Ronah (Brooke Bloom) works as a sexual surrogate in New York City, teaching her clients the very thing they fear most — to be intimate. Her life unravels when she starts working with a volatile new client, Johnny (Marc Menchaca), blurring the thin line between professional and personal intimacy in the modern world.
Lily and Kat – Co-Written by Megan Platts
Inseparable best friends (Jessica Rothe and Hannah Murray) struggle to make the best of their last few days together, savoring the city nightlife with an enigmatic artist (Jack Falahee) one of them takes a liking for.
Accidental Love – Co-Written by Kristin Gore
Alice’s (Jessica Biel) perfect life is turned upside down when a freak accident leaves a nail lodged in her head, causing erratic (and erotic) behavior. After her fiancé calls off the engagement, Alice sets off in search of a cure and falls into the arms of Howard Birdwell (Jake Gyllenhaal), a sexy senator who champions her cause. Caught up in a love triangle held together by a nail, will Alice listen to her head or her heart?
Serena – Directed by Susanne Bier
The North Carolina mountains at the end of the 1920s — George and Serena Pemberton (Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence), love-struck newlyweds, begin to build a timber empire. Serena soon proves herself to be equal to any man: overseeing loggers, hunting rattle-snakes, even saving a man’s life in the wilderness. With power and influence now in their hands, the Pembertons refuse to let anyone stand in the way of their inflated love and ambitions. However, once Serena discovers George’s hidden past and faces an unchangeable fate of her own, the Pemberton’s passionate marriage begins to unravel, leading toward a dramatic reckoning.
A Girl Like Her – Written and Directed by Amy S. Weber
Sophomore year has been a nightmare for Jessica Burns (Lexi Ainsworth). Relentlessly harassed by her former friend Avery Keller (Hunter King), Jessica doesn’t know what she did to deserve the abuse from one of South Brookdale High’s most popular and beautiful students. But when a shocking event changes both of their lives, a documentary film crew, a hidden digital camera, and the attention of a reeling community begin to expose the powerful truth.
The Riot Club – Directed by Lone Scherfig; Written by Laura Wade (Simultaneously releasing to VOD)
Set amongst the privileged elite of Oxford University, the film follows Miles and Alistair (Max Irons and Sam Claflin), two ambitious first-year students eager to explore all the fun on offer, while toying with social pressures and the desire to “belong.” They’re soon recruited to join the infamous Riot Club, where futures are created or destroyed over the course of a single evening. The Club promises luxury, decadence, and revelry, but soon descends into a shocking orgy of violence. A visceral exploration of a hidden world — both seductive and depraved — “The Riot Club” is an unexpected and stirring vision of the discord within this “civilized” group of bright young boys.
52 Tuesdays – Directed and Co-Written by Sophie Hyde (Opening in New York)
“52 Tuesdays” is centered on the relationship between James (Del Herbert-Jane), a mother undergoing gender transition, and her precocious teenage daughter Billie (Tilda Cobham-Hervey). Looking forward to starting his gender transition but weary of how the process might affect his daughter, James asks Billie to move in with her father Tom (Beau Travis Williams). To make up for the abrupt separation, mother and daughter make a commitment to meet every Tuesday afternoon, no matter what.
As the year progresses, James and Billie watch each other change in ways that sometimes threaten their once-unshakable relationship. As both individuals explore deep personal issues and struggle to remain connected, a complex tale of human desire and, ultimately, physical and psychological transformation emerges.
Backcountry (Opening in LA)
Based on a true story, “Backcountry” follows an urban couple who go camping in the Canadian wilderness, where unimaginable beauty sits alongside our most primal fears. Alex (Jeff Roop) is a seasoned outdoorsman while Jenn (Missy Peregrym), a corporate lawyer, is not. After much convincing, and against her better judgment, she agrees to let him take her deep into a Provincial Park to one of his favorite spots — the secluded Blackfoot Trail. Terror, horror, will, and survival become paramount.
White God (Opening in New York)
When 13-year-old Lili (Zsófia Psotta) is forced to give up her beloved dog Hagen because its mixed-breed heritage is deemed “undesirable” by the state, she and the dog begin a dangerous journey back toward each other. The series of events that follows leads to a full-scale canine uprising in a film that blends a coming-of-age narrative, political allegory, and rousing revenge tale. Filmed with a cast of over 200 dogs, thrills run the gamut, from scenes of Hagen bonding with fellow street mutts to dramatic chase sequences as the dogs tear through the city in this one-of-a-kind adventure.
My Life Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn (doc) – Directed by Liv Corfixen (On VOD)
In the tradition of “Hearts of Darkness,” director Liv Corfixen reveals an impossibly personal portrait of her husband, auteur Nicolas Winding Refn, as he struggles to complete the controversial and polarizing “Only God Forgives.”
To Write Love on Her Arms – Written by Kate King Lynch
A drama centered around Renee Yohe (Kat Dennings) and her battle with drugs, depression, and other life issues that ultimately leads to the founding of the charity group To Write Love on Her Arms.