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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
141 of 145 people found the following review helpful
A Lovely, Sad Movie... woefully misleading advertsApril 25 2005
- Published on Amazon.com
This is an excellent film, moving, sad, even tragic. It is NOT a "warm hearted comedy," as it says on the back of the DVD. And it certainly is not "hilarious". The blurb on the cover is quite possibly the most misleading I have ever come across. Despite that, it is a lovely film. It is a solid, serious British drama, with an excellent all round cast. The humour where present is decidedly low key. Its predominant mood is one of sadness and loss, there is warmth to be sure, but certainly not what is projected on the cover or in the trailer. One wonders why the publicists chose to so misrepresent such a fine film. Was it because they were worried its serious and even dark nature would put off the popcorn munchers? Perhaps it would have been better if they had. Then we wouldn't have been saddled with so many negative reviews from viewers who naturally felt short-changed. Then again, this is not a movie that American audiences would readily take to.
Set in 1947, it tells the story of a 16 year old girl, Stella (Georgina Cates), abandoned at birth by a wayward mother and brought up by her aunt and uncle, who aspires to join the Theatre. Into this milieu she willingly plunges herself. She encounters sordid seedy characters. She takes on menial tasks without pay. She embraces all with a gushing eager naivete. She falls for the stage director (Hugh Grant) who in her young innocence she doesn't realise actually has a preference for boys. She then latches on to an aging Lothario (Alan Rickman) who does appreciate young girls. In this darkness in which she finds herself, past and present intersect. The absent mother she faithfully places a call to everyday, the same mother who gave her away years ago, becomes the silent confidant of her hopes and fears. The aging Rickman character constantly pines for his own past even as he happily deflowers the young girl. The stage director's sordid history of seducing and then spurning young men finally comes to a head. All combine to create an air of loss and decay. A nice touch was the use of a lone flute playing "The Last Rose Of Summer" whenever the Rickman character thinks back to his lost love. If you know the song, it perfectly encapsulates the mood of this movie. And yes there is a twist at the end, but if you have been paying attention, it won't come as too much of a shock. Although the prudes and the self-righteous will as usual recoil in moral outrage.
New Line Entertainment has given us a fine if bare-bones DVD. The film is transferred in it's original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1 (enhanced for widescreen TV). Picure quality is good, clean and clear with natural warm colors. Black levels are just right. Audio includes the original stereo plus both DTS and Dolby 5.1 remixes. Excellent presentation. There are even optional English subtitles for people who can't get round the British accents. Thank goodness not everybody makes sanitized, Hollywood dross.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
A viewing adventure of discovery.June 10 2005
- Published on Amazon.com
I'd have to concur with many of the reviewers here in their thoughts of this film. I started with certain expectations because of the film adverts. As often happens when a film already has a form in your mind, I had trouble with the lack of synergy between what was described and what I viewed. Had no one said anything but this is a foreign film full of quircky characters and a non-formulaic plot, I'd have enjoyed the first viewing much more. The actors are completely brilliant and if you accept their characters with all their quircky and often sad flaws, this film is more of a tragedy with a cast of eccentric (and often very funny) characters. After setting aside and coming back to it, I found I really enoyed this movie. And it's true, each viewing seems to show another layer or has me focus on another character. Rickman's performance is stellar...no pun intended. :-) And incredible that a woman the age of (rumor has it) at least 30+ if not 40's) was able to carry off the role of the very affecting Stella.
I love Hugh Grant's character who appears to be the 'bad guy' but finally you're left wondering if he didn't just speed along the inevitable. He's still a bit of a conundrum, because he's surely written to be unlikable but is that a challenge to the moviegoer to see past the veneer, or is the veneer all their is...hmm... Oy I'm getting dizzy. :-)
I really think this rates high in the quicky foreign film category and perhaps not quite an Ameilie but certainly had it been marketed more in that vein the right audience and movie would have found each other!
I'd only recommend this movie to those that like the unusual films that are to the left of the main shelves kind of buried in the back row and you love making that great gem of a find that you feel like no one knows about! :-) Hope this helped a bit with making a decision about buying it. It's available in VHS formate for a bit less, especially used, if you're having trouble with the commitment to the DVD price. Happy viewing!
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Hugh Grant Acts, Shock Horror!Sept. 27 2007
Allan M. Lees
- Published on Amazon.com
In the days before Hugh Grant became a romantic comedy icon, it turns out that he could act, and act he does in this marvellous little vignette period-piece. Here he plays an effete theater director with a penchant for picking up men and then discarding them in the cruellest possible manner. He has assembled, for a short repertory season in the Liverpool of 1957, a cast of has-beens, alcoholics, and other assorted misfits, including the naif fourtnee-year-old Stella who dreams of becoming a posh starlet.
The supporting cast all turn in solid performances, but what really brings the film alive is when Alan Rickman steps into the story about one-third of the way in. This is Rickman in his prime: electrifying, nuanced, darkly compelling yet subtly self-mocking at the same time. It is exceedingly difficult for an actor to play an actor, because the "visible ham" element can too easily become, accidentally, "risible ham." The entire cast generally manage to pull off this balancing act par excellence, but Rickman does it best of all. He exudes sexuality even when dressed as Captain Hook in the pantomime version of Peter Pan. It's no surprise that several of the ladies of the cast would like to rekindle old acquaintances.
But the Rickman character's tragic secret (he believes he has a son, born to him many years before by a woman he knew only as Stella Maris) turns Greek-tragedy like into his denouement. The naif Stella, whom he seduces almost instantly because he is drawn to her by some alchemical attraction, turns out to be... none other than his daughter. Struck by this Oedipal twist, Rickman puts in a performance that needs to be watched several times over to be fully appreciated. In genuine grief and shock, his actor character takes recourse to cliched dramatic gesture. At first I felt Rickman had missed the mark, but after re-watching the scene in question three times I came to appreciate exactly the effect he achieves. The net result is to lend a painful pathos to his resultant demise by accidental drowning.
So for anyone looking for a twisted version of Oedipus Rex set in post-war Britain, with all the class consciousness and stultifying conventions of the time here subverted in a most enjoyable manner, this awfully small adventure yields a big reward.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
ExcellentMay 6 2006
- Published on Amazon.com
Alan Rickman and Hugh Grant are spectacular in this film. It's a dark, tragic comedy for those of us with a dry sense of humor. Many reviewers, I've noticed don't think this film funny at all, but there are amusing bits if you enjoy dark humor. This film, taking place in the 1940's, deals with the inner-workings, the darker side if you will, of the theater buisness. Stella (Georgina Cates) is a naive young girl trying to make her way in the buisness. She quickly falls in love with Meredith Potter (Hugh Grant)and begins her journey in the industry. This film deals with love, sex, death, alcoholism and much more. Any fan of Alan Rickman will certainly enjoy his superb acting in the film, same goes for Hugh Grant fans. This is an excellent addition to your dvd library.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Subtitles are your friends!Aug. 26 2007
- Published on Amazon.com
During the first viewing of this film I was only concentrating on two things. When, oh when, is my dear Alan Rickman going to come on screen, and what the HECK is the main character "Stella" saying?!? When AR finally makes his debute we are about 50 minutes into the film and he is the tall, cool drink of water we have been desperate for. Watching it without the subtitles, you get a general idea of what's happening-but unfortunately you miss several great lines and key points, that at the time they are said mean nothing-but will no doubt come back to you in the last ten minutes of the film. Over all I do believe it is a good film. And I have watched it several times, since the first viewing (all with the subtitles on!)
If you like surprises and don't mind "dark and twisty" reveals, at the end of a story-then do not read other reviews. Since AR is very good at the dark and twisty, I have learned to adapt and take nothing for granted. I went into this film knowing what the "reveal" would be at the end. And to behonest, you are so swept up in the story, that when it is revealed, you can feel nothing but sorrow-as opposed to the "ick" factor. If you are a fan of Alan Rickman's-this is a definite for your library. Hugh Grant also stars in this film. Though if dark and twisty disturbs you from the likes of Hugh Grant-this will leave you less infatuated with him.
Also, if you are familiar with the tale Peter Pan, this film wil help to define some concepts left unexplained. I have just recently read Peter Pan and can now appreciate where the title of this film comes from.