Archives for posts with tag: maggie smith

All your favorite old British people–Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Celia Imrie, Maggie Smith, Tom Wilkinson, Penelope Wilton, and Ronald Pickup–go to Jaipur. Dev Patel is also there.

I laughed once, when Judi Dench chugged a G&T, thinking it was water.

Director: John Madden
Rating: PG-13
Length: 124 min.
Score: 1/5.

It’s always hard to tell what’s going to happen in a movie about Ireland during the Troubles, or I guess at any other time, too. It might be completely miserable and heart-wrenching and make you watch someone’s fingernails get pulled out (The Wind that Shakes the Barley, e.g.), or it might be political and stirring (Michael Collins) or, apparently, it might be drippy and asinine, like The Last September.

In this film, it is 1920, and Lord and Lady Naylor (Michael Gambon and Maggie Smith) are landed gentry in Ireland; their sympathies are with the English, as is entirely logical. Staying with them is their more-or-less orphaned niece, Lois (Keeley Hawes), whom a young British army officer (a Captain Colthurst, played by David Tennant with an efficient mustache) loves to distraction. Rounding out the house-party are Mr. and Mrs. Montmorency (Lambert Wilson and somebody) and Marda Norton (Fiona Shaw).

This could have been a moderately intelligent film about the death of empire, or what happens to people like the Naylors when their world ceases to exist, or even about the IRA. But it wasn’t. Instead it was a stupid movie about a love triangle, consisting of Lois, poor Colthurst, and a Peter Connelly (Gary Lydon), who might be a member of some revolutionary organization but generally seems to be a free-lance murderer. Now, I hate plots driven by love triangles, because they usually involve somebody being stupid or cruel or both, and so it’s hard to feel any empathy. And it’s worse when the love triangle is frankly absurd, as this one is. Lois apparently grew up with Peter, and harbors tender feelings, but all we see him do is shoot a Black & Tan in the head and try to rape Lois twice (maybe I misread the situation both times, but I don’t think so, and if I did… the director maybe should have made different choices). Now, Black & Tans were horrible, and this one was carefully set up to be hateful, but even so that’s not really a love affair with a future. Colthurst, for his part, is poor and comes from no family at all, but he’s very much in love with Lois and even his mustache is just achingly honest and dutiful.

So of course she prefers Peter, because she is an idiot, and of course she won’t actually give Colthurst his walking papers, because she is cruel, and of course this ends in literally the worst possible way, because, as I said, she is an idiot.

Otherwise Mr. Montmorency and Miss Norton are in love and it’s a bit sad, and Maggie Smith, as is apparently her job, refuses to believe that her world is changing.

Notes:

  • Lambert Wilson’s English is perfect. When he came onto the screen I thought, “He looks awfully French in general and like the Merovingian in particular but it couldn’t be he.” It is.
  • Keeley Hawes is always playing these parts, but she remains likable. Not here, obviously, but it won’t put me off her in future. Also, her fringe is a disaster.
  • Conversely, David Tennant has a lot of ground to make up with me, because “Doctor Who” became unbearable during his incumbency, but this helped, rather. He was just so lost looking and affecting. Well, and the uniform.

Director: Deborah Warner
Rating: R
Length: 103 min.
Score: 1/5.