A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Keeping Mum

August 21, 2010

Keeping Mum

You know what I love? I love a clever British comedy with a fantastic cast. Say, Maggie Smith and Rowan Atkinson and Kristin Scott Thomas. And how about a black comedy with infidelity, sex and murder in the little English country town of Little Wallop. If that sounds as appealing to you as it does to me then this is the movie for you.

In this movie the Goodfellow family has problems. Mother Gloria is pent up, sexually frustrated, tempted to an affair with her cad of an American golf instructor, and cannot sleep through the night because of her neighbour’s annoying dog. Daughter Holly is a bit of a floozy and goes through boyfriends like Kleenex. Son Petey is a bit of a wimp and mommy’s boy who is picked on by everybody in his school. Father Reverend Walter Goodfellow is utterly clueless in every way. Everything is going wrong for them until they get a new housekeeper. Grace Hawkins (unbeknownst to everybody else) has only just gotten out of prison for the brutal murder of her husband and her mistress. She is a kind, simple, wonderful woman who just happens to have an uncharacteristically direct way of solving problems for herself and her family.

You know, it would probably be an okay movie give the fun script and plot, but it ends up being more than just a fun movie. That’s because this movie has that amazing cast, and is filled with gorgeous English countryside. As the clueless reverend we have Rowan Atkinson, who gets to mostly play the straight man for a change. He has a little bit of physical humor as he displays Walter’s ineptitude at football. But this is really a movie about the women.

It’s about Gloria Goodfellow (played brilliantly by Kristin Scott Thomas) and her quiet desperation. For one thing, she’s the only person in the movie who seems to understand what’s going on. She’s the intelligent core of the film. In spite of the fact that she very nearly enters into an extramarital affair with Lance (her sleazy golf instructor, played by Patrick Swayze in one of his last roles) you still completely sympathise with her. She’s tortured by her husband’s daft cluelessness. She is mortified by her daughter’s antics. And the movie is all about how Grace solves her problems and turns her life around, and why.

Grace herself, of course, is played with charm and good humor by Maggie Smith. It’s a tricky role, since for the humor to work you have to accept that for all her unusual methods for showing it she is entirely driven by benevolence. Everything she does is done for Gloria and for her family. And with the kind of dark humor involved in this kind of movie you can completely accept even the most brutal acts.

The humor, the scenery, the cast… everything in this movie seems custom tailored to my tastes. (Well, except for a bit of squeamishness on my part regarding a couple of Grace’s victims. Maybe they didn’t deserve what they got.) It makes me chuckle, makes me grin to see Gloria’s family repaired, and sends a bit of a chill down my spine now when somebody asks “shall I put the kettle on?”

August 21, 2010 - Posted by | daily reviews | , , ,

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