A rare director with the ability to shift between Shakespeare and spy films at the drop of the hat, Richard Loncraine has been turning out fine movies in nearly every genre since the mid-'70s. As equally adept as he may be at all kinds of films, it's precisely his wide versatility that has likely kept the director from gaining widespread notice outside the world of cinema scholars. A U.K. native and respected artist whose detailed sculptures were often found on display at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Loncraine aspired to become a set designer before honing his skills as an actor. His talents outside of the film world served to reflect his versatility in the realm of cinema, and Loncraine first courted commercial success as the creator of Newton's Cradle, those incessantly clacking silver balls that quickly became a fixture of every CEO's desk from the U.K. to the U.S. in the early '80s. Loncraine soon began directing documentaries and educational BBC programs, and a series of commercials helped him refine his skills behind the camera. When director John Schlesinger chose him to create the toys designed by a pivotal figure in 1971's Sunday, Bloody Sunday, Loncraine convinced the director to hire him as an actor. The opportunity proved a pivotal one for Loncraine, and, in 1975, he made his directorial debut with the musical drama Flame. Not only was the film well received by both critics and audiences, but it also spawned a fruitful partnership between Loncraine and actor Tom Conti that would endure for years to come. Loncraine subsequently tried his hand at several other genres, including horror (The Haunting of Julia, 1977), spy-thrillers (Deep Cover, 1980), comedy (The Missionary, 1982), and psychological thrillers (Brimstone and Treacle, 1982) -- all to surprising effect. After moving into crime drama territory with Bellman and True (1987), the director took a break from the screen before returning with the affecting drama The Wedding Gift in 1994. Though 1995's Richard III made a unique attempt to meld classic Shakespeare with a speculative historical setting, the film drew mixed responses from audiences despite earning several BAFTA and Oscar nominations. In 2002, Loncraine received an Emmy for his contributions to the acclaimed HBO miniseries Band of Brothers. The following years found him experimenting more and more with drama with such releases as The Gathering Storm (2002), My House in Umbria (2003), and Godspeed, Lawrence Mann (2004). Directing that year's Wimbledon, Loncraine worked with one of his most star-studded casts to date in a tale of a dispirited tennis player who finds hope for the future after meeting a young female player from the Wimbledon circuit.
~ Jason Buchanan, All Movie Guide