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Summer 1900: Queen Victoria's last and the summer Leo turns 13. He's the guest of Marcus, a wealthy classmate, at a grand home in rural Norfolk. Leo is befriended by Marian, Marcus's twenty-something sister, a beauty about to be engaged to Hugh, a viscount and good fellow. Marian buys Leo a forest-green suit, takes him on walks, and asks him to carry messages to and from their neighbor, Ted Burgess, a bit of a rake. Leo is soon dissembling, realizes he's betraying Hugh, but continues as the go-between nonetheless, asking adults naive questions about the attractions of men and women. Can an affair between neighbors stay secret for long? And how does innocence end? Written by
Evocative record of a very hot (and stately) Norfolk summer
I agree with the previous reviewer that the time-shifts seem unnecessary and serve only to complicate the film. There's also an unlikely implication that the events of the Norfolk summer which Leo experienced 40 years ago were so traumatic that he had become psychologically incapable of getting married.
But for me, although there's not much that happens in the plot, this film is heavy with nostalgia. It was the first school film I saw on arriving at a Northamptonshire boarding school. Like Leo, I was 13 and didn't understand everything that was going on.
Would I recommend it to today's youth? Well yes, but I wouldn't expect a large proportion of them to sit the entire way through it. It just doesn't have anything like the pace of today's blockbusters or teen movies. The enjoyment of this film is now largely an intellectual one -- it's about the laughable views of the upper class, and about book-to-film transfers.
Incidentally, to my knowledge, this film has never been available for sale on DVD. And yet in March 2006, it was given away as a freebie DVD with the UK's Sunday Telegraph. The film industry is seriously undervaluing its back-catalogue. Who knows what next -- Lindsay Anderson's brilliant 'IF' in a packet of cereal??
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