I recently received a letter from a CPE candidate asking for some tips on how to write a film review and what information to include and not to include in it. I hope you find this post useful. Click here to see an example of a film review.

Let's start from the basics. Whatever you do, don't tell us the end of the film! If there´s something film review readers hate is spoilers. When writing about the plot it is better to keep it brief and simple.
Regarding what information to include. I´d say the title and the main actors´names is a must. Then of course a little bit of the plot and something very important is to give your opinion. We want to know if you enjoyed the film and if you recommend it. Saying something about the director, the special effects and the soundtrack is something that would give your text a plus.

Another aspect to take into consideration especially when writing a review for an international exam is the level of the vocabulary you use in it. Obviously you want to show off and demonstrate the wide variety of words that you know. Click here to read the page: "Writing to impress the examiner".

Don´t use any word more than twice and try to avoid too simple adjectives such as "good" or "interesting". 

I´ll give you an example of this:

Instead of saying "the acting was good", say something like "the actors´performance was outstanding"!

Instead of saying "the film was interesting", say something like "the film was riveting".

Film Review: Practical Magic

Practical Magic is a Warner Bros film which was released in 1998 and was based on a book by Alice Hoffman. This supernatural comedy-drama is the story of a long distinguished line of female witches who are the victims of a curse as “any man who dares love an Owen woman is doomed to die”.

Sandra Bullock (Sally Owen) plays a young botanist who tries desperately to live a magic-free life only to find herself victim of the curse when her beloved husband dies. Nicole Kidman, her sister (Gilly Owen), has her own share of suffering when her love spell backfires and her delinquent boyfriend tries to kill her. This is actually the climax of the story when Sandra Bullock is forced to embrace her long-denied wiccan legacy to tap into the magic she urgently needs to save her sibling.

Even though Practical Magic has been severely criticised by Hollywood reviews, allegedly because of its light-hearted plot, there are a couple of strong points which  I like about the film and I believe are worth mentioning: The setting, for a start. The story develops in a lovely village which is a kind of New England and you can actually see what a wonderful job they did with the scenography. Then, there is the soundtrack, which includes one of my favourite songs of all times “This Kiss” by Faith Hill.

I would no doubt recommend Practical Magic to anyone who is fond of fantasy films like me, or who is interested in witch stories or magic.

Gustavo Albarracín 

Are you planning to take the CPE exam soon? Take a look at some other CPE Sample Writings:

Film Review "Vertigo". Click here.

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