Impossibly overhyped...


...as most of Stephen Poliakoff's productions usually are, this one actually took the biscuit, with dull, uninspired direction, annoyingly melodramatic musical score, uneven acting bordering on the ridiculous...I mean, the whole cast's masterful handling of drama school-accented RP was hilarious, including the kid that sleeps rough on Old Compton Street but threatens, once in the house, 'what are you going to do about thaaaat?' - this one had me in absolute stiches, dahling, for all the wrong reasons. As for the script, I found it nonsensical, worse yet, random, aimless even. The illicit couple's relationship - what sort of relevance did it have to the overall storyline? And wasn't the revelation of Gambon's father's secret a bit of a non event? I must however add that Wynter's performance was this piece's sole redeeming feature - oh, and Gambon's too, I guess, then again it's like getting the old family silverware out of its dusty drawer once in a while. As for the rest...let's see...oh, did I mention the dialogues? How many times can someome drop the name 'Joe' in one sentence without risking the untimely death of many a television set across the country? I for one was very much tempted with defenestration.

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[deleted]

I tend to agree with Alekable, especially on the luvvie rough sleeper and the toe-curling musical score. And certainly, Poliakoff's status as the BBC's poster-boy (which seems to be directly proportionate to the shameful way they treated Dennis Potter) has become nigh on intolerable. All that aside, after the truly woeful Gideon's Daughter* this was close to scintillating.

*Rob Lyons, 'Press the Poliak-off button':

http://www.spiked-online.com/index.php?/site/article/229/

The lion and the calf shall lie down together, but the calf won't get much sleep.

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Yes, I'm afraid you are right. I am a Poliakoff fan but this is his THIRD bad piece of work on the trot. The prospects for 'Capturing Mary' look no better. The plot was at best whimsical, at worst horribly mannered, and yes, dialogue to make you slip into a coma. Can I add "fantastic" to the list of words that appeared almost with Tourette's-like regularity? Everyone who enetered the 'palace' exclaimed "fantastic" when infact the house was merely tastefully dull. It was meant to be the cradle of the story, but it was plain boring.

There was an excellent piece in the Times criticising S.P which nailed many of his faults perfectly. What drives me mad is that he thinks putting a harrassed, middle-aged man (Gambon) in a suit and making him row round a castle is enough to keep us interested. IT ISN'T! We want a story too - not just a sudden 5 minute confession at the end of the piece tying up the many, many loose ends.

The real cause of this mess is lack of editorial control at the BBC. Obviously S.P is so powerful no one dares to tell him a script is rubbish. The Lost Prince was his last good work - but now I'm starting to think it was only good because he had to stick to a true story - instead of his own whimsical interpretation of 'the past'...

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Agree with your painting analogy, markbc. In fact several scenes reminded me of paintings. For example, the scene in the Berlin Park with the men crawling - their grotesque,twisted bodies - could have been a channeling of Bruegel.

The aerial shot where Joe and Mr. Evans are laying on the ground is clearly meant to stick in our minds, a symbolic dramatization of a moment of collapse.
The canoeing round the castle, another aerial shot of Joe sitting like a geometric piece surrounded by the spiral stairway - they're like set pieces meant to provoke thought long after the words are gone.

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[deleted]

I watched this last night. Personally I did not think it was as good as Capturing Mary,which was superb. I could not see the same multiple layers of meaning that reveal themselves in the second play. But still, it was good.
My grandfather's firm traded with Germany before WWII, which may have also affected my approach to the main thrust of the story: I could not feel the same guilt that appeared to be expected. Many did, as many trade with Russia and China now. Christopher Isherwood even lived there...

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I humbly beg to differ with you, OP-- I think your original post is the one that's a bit overhyped.

Everybody is entitled to an opinion, I suppose, but just because you personally didn't pick up on the subtleties of a film-- does that mean that it is a bad film?

For example, you said that the illicit couple was irrelevant. Ok, if you choose not to see it, that's your choice, but the fact is that they are highly relevant to the theme: their visits to the house form a pattern of "wrongdoing" that Richard excuses with winks and innuendo, that Joe and Graham both choose to "look the other way" in regard to, but that ultimately is shown to have deep, scarring effects on Charlotte. In a small (and seeming insignificant) way this is exactly what the father was doing in trading with the Nazis, we eventually find out. The film asks us to consider whether there are distinctions to be made between these two patterns of wrongful actions. Joe clearly "gets something" out of providing a place for the illicit lovers and looking the other way; Graham's father "gets something" out of trading with the Nazis and looking the other way in regard to their inhumanity toward Jews. Is there any difference? I'm not suggesting that the film answers the question. I think it merely puts the question out there and asks each of us to consider it, to answer it for ourselves.

Personally, I think it is a rather profound film that presents itself in a subtle and quiet way. If "nothing happens" in it, then it might possibly mean that nothing is happening inside the viewer. That's a shame, but I don't think that it's the fault of the film.

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