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Unfunny, heavy sex comedy with a religious and moral emphasis
There is a problem in the marriage of Mick (Hywel Bennett) and Kate (Nanette Newman). Quite simply, they have six young children and Kate wants no more. Consequently she has imposed a "love ban" on him. He is now sleeping in the spare room; and after 10 months without sex he is missing his conjugal rights and beginning to experience sexual fantasies. As he is a serious Roman Catholic and opposed to contraception, there is clearly a problem to resuming sexual relations. They make tentative steps towards contraception she through Family Planning and the Pill, he obtaining condoms. However their efforts are somewhat blown off course by the fact that their single Irish au pair (Angharad Rees) is having sex with a Jack-the-Lad type (Nicky Henson) and Mick decides to intervene, feeling responsible for her moral welfare, and is abetted by his friend, a Roman Catholic priest (Milo O'Shea). This leads to a rather heavy showdown with Kate asserting a woman's "right to choose" her fertility and some well-aimed barbed comments at the Church. Finally, on Christmas Eve, they make up.
Despite the fact that Mick must be in his late 20s at least and is a marketing manager for a bra manufacturer (getting the chance to admire lingerie models), he acts like an embarrassed 16-year old when he attempts to buy condoms in the chemist, has an unsuitable haircut through a similar effort at the barber's and locks himself in the bathroom on reaching home. The women are depicted no better, presented as bad drivers and poor at parking, while fluttering their eyelashes at policemen to avoid a parking penalty and using pregnancy as an excuse. Mick's momentary sexual fantasies are of naked young women walking in front of his car or of a girls team shown full-frontal playing netball. Kate's fantasies, however, are of her undressed husband and coyly depicted.
Despite the presence in the cast of experienced comic players such as John Cleese and Nicky Henson the film remains resolutely unfunny. Special mention to Georgina Hale, playing her usual delightfully minxy type, and a foxy breathy-voiced Madeline Smith. Nanette Newman looks glamorous throughout, while coping with the demands of four young children, baby twins and a sullen frustrated husband - there is even a credit for the provider of her shirts.
Sexual frustration in a marriage can certainly be funny but here there is an added element with criticism of the religious attitude to contraception and a heavy play on sexual morality leading to a striving to present the woman's "right to choose". OK, but it doesn't make for a comedy. And especially not when it contains clichés of women as bad drivers and men as fumbling 16-year olds, embarrassed about buying condoms and having a haircut.
So, just enjoy the depiction of married life in their open plan modern UK New Town (London overspill) house with its blue bathroom suite, louvred kitchen cabinets, wooden ceiling, odd-shaped metallic wall lights and G-Plan furniture. The husband even has one of those 70s shorty dressing gowns. Also enjoy the animated titles by Bob Godfrey which neatly encapsulate the film's themes.
Some sources on the Net claim that Madeline Smith is topless in this. Not so. As one of Mick's fantasies he imagines Madeline Smith's character topless. However the girl shown is sex comedy actress and glamour model Nicola Austin, whose hard-working body appears in many a British sex film.
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