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Charlie Bubbles, a writer, up from the working class of Manchester, England, who, in the course of becoming prematurely rich and famous, has mislaid a writer's basic tool - the capacity to feel and to respond. Now he must visit his estranged wife and son, whom he has set up on a farm outside his native city. His journey accidentally becomes an attempt to reestablish his connections with life, people, and his own history. Written by
This excellent film is about the effects of displacement, of being a fish out of water. Working-class Charlie Bubbles has ascended from his humble origins to become a successful writer. He has clearly not handled the transition well from within, but it's hardly surprising when there are so many hurdles to overcome in the world outside of himself.
The story would have been familiar to a lot of people in Britain in the 60s, as the first generation to benefit from the post-WW2 welfare state came to adulthood. CHARLIE BUBBLES nails this more effectively than any other film I know. Playwright Shelagh (A TASTE OF HONEY) Delaney's script is full of acute observation; the acting is marvellous, the cinematography (by a young Peter Suschitzky, now better known as David Cronenberg's DOP) noticeably European, the charming score (by Misha Donat - Mr Suschitzky's sister) a nod to to the work of Georges Delarue and Nino Rota. Indeed, the movie as a whole leans more towards New Wave and Fellini than the realistic school in which Finney made his name as an actor. Here he is also the director - his one and only feature film in that capacity - and a very creditable achievement it is too.
How CHARLIE BUBBLES reads to people unfamiliar with its social and historical background, I don't know. For me it is one of the finest British films of the sixties, but it somehow gets overlooked in the enthusiasm for THE LONELINESS OF THE LONG-DISTANCE RUNNER, A KIND OF LOVING and of course Saturday NIGHT AND Sunday MORNING. They are all fine films films, but so is this one. Re-assessment in its favour is long overdue.
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