A bit of a curiosity for me is this UK/French co-production, as there were things I liked about this film and stuff that really annoyed.
Based on a short story by the writer/director Virgina Gilbert the film tells the story of a retired couple in their late 60s early 70s, Joseph and Brenda (James Fox and Brenda Fricker), who now spend their empty days in a monotonous routine in the South of France. When they meet a young couple on holiday (Natalie Dormer and Paul Nicholls), Joseph finds himself irresistibly drawn to the woman – the beautiful Suzanne.
So the annoying stuff first: story? Ahh, it just didn’t really feel meaty enough, the frailty of growing old is touched upon then forgotten and the whole endeavour wasn’t helped by the use of a lot of cutaways (shots of stuff edited in between scenes) and long starts to scenes (often using lengthy pans before the ‘action’ began). For me some of these really jarred and it just felt like they were being used to pad out the film’s 80 odd minute running time. Basically the film could have been a great short film – but then that would have made it a bit of an expensive undertaking.
I’m pretty rock solid when it comes to paying attention in films and suddenly the story picked up dreamatically (and I mean dreamatically): Joseph lies to his wife, Brenda, about a day trip he is undertaking when in fact he is secretly meeting up with Suzanne. He takes her and her boyfriend, Mark, to a vineyard just so Joseph can be with her, and there’s a definite sexual frisson happening when they’re together. After the day out Mark wants to thank Joseph by taking him and Brenda out to dinner. Joseph makes some excuses. Fails to put Mark off. Oh fuck. How’s Joseph going to handle this? Brenda’s shown a sign of Alzheimers, maybe (we never know), perhaps he’ll use that to make his lie work? Now things are beginning to motor. We’re going some where.
Next scene Joesph’s with Brenda and I discover that I must have misheard the whole thing, as Brenda clearly knows about this day out – it wasn’t a secret tryst at all. No lies. No deceit. No tension. It was all wishful thinking on my part. Crap.
Sorry but it would have been better if Joseph had lied to his wife about this!
And what the fuck was the old man at the game of Boules about? Please tell me!
And it has a poor use of music…..I’m making the film sound terrible it is not, just really annoying in parts… it could have been…. so…
Stuff I really liked and which make the film worth a look: James Fox and Brenda Fricker. In particular Brenda Fricker who delivers a masterclass in how a look can convey a thousand words. These two fabulous actors raise the film above it’s source material and imbue their characters with real humanity. They live the dream but the dream is empty.