Sam Mendes' Empire Of Light trailer offers a glimpse at Olivia Colman and Michael Ward's stirring performances

Olivia Colman in Empire Of Light
Olivia Colman in Empire Of Light

Searchlight Pictures shares the full trailer for Sam Mendes’ forthcoming love letter to cinema, Empire Of Light. It promises moving performances from stars Olivia Colman and Michael Ward, as they find themselves swept up in romance, hitting innumerable challenges along the way.

Colman stars in Empire Of Light as Hilary Small, a depressed, lonely woman who spends her time working at The Empire cinema. It’s there she not only meets a younger Black man named Stephen (Ward)—with whom she forms a romantic relationship—but falls in love with film as an art form. Her bond with Stephen also broadens her perspective on the ongoing racial issues in the small coastal community, as the film grapples with the 1981 Brixton Riots and the rise of the far-right fascist National Front party.

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EMPIRE OF LIGHT | Official Trailer | Searchlight Pictures

The film features Colin Firth as The Empire’s owner, as well as Tom Brooke, Hannah Onslow, Toby Jones, Crystal Clarke, and Tanya Moodie. Empire Of Light marks Mendes’ first time as the sole writer on a project, following his stint as a co-writer with Krysty Wilson-Cairns for 1917.

“I’m not saying all my other films aren’t personal in some way because clearly they have relevance to me, but almost as if it’s the first time I’ve ever named something this personal because I’ve approached it in my own weird route,” Mendes tells Deadline. “To be writing my own screenplay for the first time at 56 having made nine other movies is an odd thing to do, but I just felt compelled to write this. I think everyone’s experience of lockdown was, your head was held in a vice, you had to look only at your life, you’re living here. … So what is your life, what is there, what do you value?”

Empire Of Light makes its arrival in theaters on December 9.

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