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The aristocratic Tony moves to London and hires the servant Hugo Barrett for all services at home. Barrett seems to be a loyal and competent employee, but Tony's girlfriend Susan does not like him and asks Tony to send him away. When Barrett brings his sister Vera to work and live in the house, Tony has a brief hidden affair with her. After traveling with Susan and spending a couple of days in a friend's house outside London, the couple unexpectedly returns and finds Barrett and Vera, who are actually lovers, in Tony's room. They are fired and Susan breaks with Tony. Later, Tony meets Barrett alone in a pub and hires him back, and Barrett imposes his real dark intentions in the house, turning the table and switching position with his master. Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
A super, confusing but entirely visceral experience, The Servant is a rich collaboration between Pinter (the writer) and Losey. Good performances from Fox and the doyenne of the slightly barmy 60's flick, Sarah Miles are mandatory in order to keep up with the entirely convincing theatrics of Dirk Bogarde's morally abstract butler, Barrett. Losey keeps everything claustrophobic: there's also an edginess through the stiltedness of set pieces - in restaurants and bars, and even in the Mounset's country pile. The only scene which seems comfortable is the snow(fight) sequence in which Susan and Tony affirm their love - and the moral height from which Tony must fall.
Bizarrely, the film is erotic for the first half but then simply frightening for the second, the drama wound around a single moral trajectory - downwards - throughout. We are engulfed from the start with open-ended sexual permissiveness and suggestion, which runs alongside the class divide whose tension drives the drama to the same degree. In the final scenes I couldn't remove Berg's opera on Wedekind's play Lulu from my mind, given the sax-fronted jazz of John Dankworth colliding awkwardly with a simultaneous orchestral score. It's just a brilliant, original film - analysis resistant, but entirely absorbing nonetheless 8/10
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