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Empire of Light: A Reel Monday Movie Night film

Reel Monday Movie Nights screens Empire of Light, a film directed by Academy Award winning Sam Mendes

Whenever Reel Monday Movie Nights screens a film, organizers usually select cinema that inspires and is thought-provoking. 

The St. Albert Public Library fundraiser closes the autumn season on Monday, Dec. 11 with Empire of Light, a film set in Margate, a northern English seaside town in the early 1980s. 

Packed with multiple layers, Empire of Light mashes diverse themes of racism, mental illness, family, infidelity, and a romantic connection between an older woman and a younger man. 

Directed by Academy Award-winning director Sam Mendes, the movie stars several of Britain’s finest actors including Olivia Colman, Micheal Ward, Colin Firth, Toby Jones and Tom Brooke. 

Olivia Colman plays Hilary, a quiet single woman who works at a seaside movie palace. She is a lonely person who eats dinners for one and has the occasional one-night stand with her married boss Mr. Ellis (Colin Firth). 

Enter Stephen (Micheal Ward), a new theatre employee from Jamaica who is putting in time until he goes to college. Both Hilary and Stephen feel isolated in the small town. He is a black man living among bigoted individuals. She suffers from mental health issues. 

Although Hilary is entering middle age and Stephen is waiting for college acceptance, their loneliness draws them together and the duo starts a romance. But as Hilary’s mental illness progresses, their lives take a sharp turn. 

Empire of Light starts at 7 p.m. at the Arden Theatre on Monday, Dec. 11. Tickets are $15 and are available online at or at 780-459-1542 or in person at the door. 


Anna Borowiecki

About the Author: Anna Borowiecki

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