|Index||9 reviews in total|
20 out of 21 people found the following review useful:
THE ROMANTIC ENGLISHWOMAN (Joseph Losey, 1975) ***, 23 August 2006
Author: MARIO GAUCI (firstname.lastname@example.org) from Naxxar, Malta
From the film's title and credits, I had assumed it would be a
hysterical melodrama but, in general, I was pleasantly surprised by the
result! As expected from this director, it's a stylish film but not an
easy one: in fact, it's been likened to Alain Resnais' LAST YEAR AT
MARIENBAD (1961) - though it's not quite that mystifying!
Still, the plot does blur the confines which separate fact from fiction, especially in the way novelist/screenwriter Michael Caine bases the affair between a man and a woman who meet while on holiday in a foreign city - and which we see enacted from time to time - on the one he suspects went on between his wife (Glenda Jackson) and a young German gigolo (Helmut Berger) in Baden-Baden. The latter, however, is not as naïve and innocuous as he seems to be; apart from being a crook, when invited by Caine to England, he insinuates himself into the couple's household: charming the nanny who takes care of their child, intriguing the apprehensive Caine (playing a character named Lewis Fielding, whereupon Berger presents himself as an admirer citing "Tom Jones" as his favorite novel - actually written by Henry Fielding!) but who still makes him his secretary, while Jackson is annoyed and evidently uncomfortable with the whole tension-filled set-up.
The three stars are excellent, but Caine's character is especially interesting; curiously enough, when presented with the idea for his script, he finds it boring and proposes to change it into a suspenser but, after realizing that the drama held greater resonance for him than he had anticipated, he is unaware of the parallel thriller subplot wherein Berger falls foul of his criminal associates (led by the smooth Michel Lonsdale)! The cast also features Rene' Kolldehoff (as Caine's extravagant producer), Nathalie Delon (severely underused, despite her "Guest Artist" credit) and Kate Nelligan (as a gossipmonger friend of the Fieldings).
The script by Tom Stoppard and Thomas Wiseman (from the latter's novel) is actually very funny, particularly Caine's explosive put-down of Nelligan on her very first appearance (though when Jackson eventually leaves him for Berger, she goes to see how he's doing and they make up), a society dinner in which Caine ends up drunk and Delon is mistaken for a hooker and, again, Caine's close encounter with gangster Lonsdale. Here, Losey also does some interesting things with his camera (Gerry Fisher was the cinematographer) and Richard Hartley's score is notable, too.
I've only watched this and MR. KLEIN (1976) from Losey's final period (1972-85), during which there were evident signs of decline; even if overlong and emerging, ultimately, as a lesser work, the film is more enjoyable - and rewarding - than could be gleaned from a mere reading of its synopsis...
7 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
Fascinating entry in the Caine back catalogue, 21 November 2009
Author: mark-whait from United Kingdom
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
When I first saw this movie in 1992, I always felt it was a lot cleverer, and stronger than many people first thought. After watching it again recently, I still think it has a highly original side to it that still shines through. Caine plays a highly successful writer who becomes obsessed with his wife's (Glenda Jackson) potential infidelity with a handsome German (Helmut Berger) during a recent trip to Baden Baden. Things are more complicated by the fact that Berger suddenly arrives at the Caine household to work as his secretary, and that the movie is full of imaginary scenes that we are led to believe Caine is playing out in his authors' mind. Joe Losey directs in his wonderful trademark style, and although the movie is in danger of being nothing more than an arty, soulless piece, Losey keeps it moving with enough originality to keep the viewer interested - even though it would have benefited from being 20 or 30 minutes shorter. During early scenes, the dialogue is stilted and wooden, but as the movie wears on we realise that Caine and Jackson are actually highly deft at weaving tremendous delivery from the script. Caine's best scene is his rant at his wife's friend Isabel (Kate Nelligan) whilst puffing on a huge cigar, and Jackson shows that the cinema's loss was most certainly the Labour Party's gain. Berger is less convincing, his square jaw good looks not able to support a complex role that probably demanded a better effort, but it's hardly surprising he can't get a foothold in against two acting heavyweights. The Baden Baden backdrop is stunning, and all in all this is a film without doubt one of the most interesting entries in Caine's body of work.
4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Intriguing and mysterious at the same time, 6 May 2011
Author: nomorefog (email@example.com) from Sydney, Australia
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This film has impeccable credentials as art-house entertainment but
whether it actually delivers on what it promises is another matter. I
wouldn't say that it's completely successful, but it is intriguing and
tries not to insult the audience's intelligence.
Directed by Joseph Losey, written by Tom Stoppard and starring Glenda Jackson and Michael Caine, the film borrows heavily from the theories of Italian playwright Luigi Pirandello. That is, the characters in the piece come to understand that they only exist within the mind of the writer who has created them. The writer in this instance is Lewis Fielding (Michael Caine), who is suffering from writers block, but believes his wife Elizabeth (Glenda Jackson) is having an affair with a German gigolo she has met at an exclusive spa on a recent trip to Europe. Well, maybe she is, maybe she isn't it doesn't seem to be the point, but then nothing else does either when you come to think of it. On Jackson's return to England, this mysterious young man follows her and Caine imagines all kinds of things that may or may not have taken place between them. I think that by the end of the film Caine and Jackson realise how much they love each other and isn't life interesting that they've had this adventure and now they can get back together and blah, blah, blah.
The film is not really as deep as it would like to think it is, but it does attempt to pull off something different to the conventional form of story telling which is dependent on linear narrative, within a given time frame and moving exclusively forward in time. 'The Romantic Englishwoman' becomes a bit befuddling since the viewer is not given enough clues as to what may be going on in the 'real' world as opposed to the imaginings of the writer Fielding as he attempts to figure out if his wife is having an affair with the mysterious man she met in Europe or not.
This kind of experimental filmmaking is interesting, but film, is more dependent upon narrative rather than theoretical imaginings to get its point across. Pirandello wrote exclusively for the stage and apparently his experiments with form worked within that medium. What is going on in somebody's mind is legendarily impossible to record on film and the reason why many literary adaptations are failures, or why many classic novels in the past have never been filmed at all. The written word is able to tease our imaginations into believing that we are privy to a character's private thoughts since we are literally reading the words off a page.
Michael Caine and Glenda Jackson surrender themselves to the film's conceit and they both come out blameless if the project was not perhaps the success it should have been. Michael Caine has a wonderful and very bitchy confrontation with Kate Nelligan playing Elizabeth's friend, in which he exposes his own insecurity about losing his wife, rather than bullying her friend into thinking that his wife no longer values their friendship.
'Romantic Englishwoman' tries to do something different and considering some of the meretricious material that gets made, we should be grateful for the efforts of director Joseph Losey and writer Tom Stoppard. I did not keep my copy on VHS and I cannot with the waning of the years, count on the fact that even though I have remembered it for as long as I have I will continue to do so. Bring on the DVD!
1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Fiction and reality, 18 February 2012
Author: jotix100 from New York
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Not having seen "The Romantic Englishwoman" before, we got the
opportunity as it was shown on a classical movie channel recently. Its
pedigree showed a lot of talent went into the production of this movie.
First of all, Joseph Losey, as a director, then the screenplay written
by Tom Stoppard with Thomas Wiseman, the author of the original novel,
and last a cast that included Michael Caine and Glenda Jackson, so
could be wrong?
Lewis, the writer, is apparently blocked. His new novel is taking place in his mind as well as some of the action appears on the screen. It involves Lewis' wife, Elizabeth interacting with a man that she met at the luxurious Brenner Park Hotel and the Baden-Baden casino where a bored Elizabeth goes to get away from it all. Elizabeth is surprised as she finds Thomas, the stranger she met on the train.
The novel follows loosely the novel which Lewis is trying to write. What went on at the posh resort, suddenly changes, when Thomas suddenly decides to try England for a change of pace. Thomas deals in drugs, but obviously has no clue as where to hide the powdery substance in a drain pipe of the hotel. Lewis is intrigued with the prospect of having Thomas close by inviting him to stay with him as a personal secretary, infuriating Elizabeth, before she finally falls for the visitor's charms.
Boredom is an element for most of the rich set around Lewis and Elizabeth, something the author cannot take. Things become a bit difficult for Thomas, who decides to leave for the Continent taking Elizabeth along, who by then has become involved with the younger man. Because of Thomas drug problem it does not take too long before the people he cheated get a hold of him, thus ending Elizabeth fascination with this pseudo poet man.
This is not one of the best efforts by the distinguish director Joseph Losey. His triumphs in films like "The Servant", "Mr. Klein", "The Go Between" and other more successful films, are not reflected in this one. There are hints of his talent. The elegance he always brought to his work is present here. The posh interiors in most of the film are prominently shown. One would have wished to have seen a better copy of this film in which the emphasis is luxury in contrast with the shallowness of the character of Thomas, who uses older women in order to survive.
The best thing in the film is Glenda Jackson's Elizabeth. She is a complex character with needs and desires overlooked by her husband. Feeling she is the object of Thomas' interest makes her see him in a more romantic way. Michael Caine is always a welcome presence in any film where he decides to appear. Helmut Berger's Thomas practically derail the picture. Maybe another actor would have been more credible than him. Kate Nelligan is totally wasted, even though she has top billing.
1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
The Romantic Englishwoman, 13 September 2012
Author: junkielee from Rome
My very first contact with Joseph Losey's canon is this film adapted
from Thomas Wiseman's eponymous novel, the reason why I selected this
one purely because of its cast, namely for Glenda Jackson, the
two-times Oscar winner, whose work has eluded me until now, but the
film itself turns out to be a very disappointing misfire.
Speaking of the cast, Glenda Jackson has her charismatic dignity in almost every scene although regularly shoehorned between Berger's perpetual snug grin and Caine's perpetual sullen stare, and eventually cannot save the film from the mire of a psychological drama swamped with behavioral absurdities and non-consistent narrative. The fierce-looking wife with a bob cut and perfectly trimmed fringes, who is discontent with her middle-class lifestyle (her writer husband has immersed into the writer's block when writing a film script and becomes paranoid about her adultery in her solo trip to Baden-Baden), tries her luck to elope with a self-claimed German poet (whose real identity is only hinted by smuggling small-time drugs and cruising of elderly lonely-hearts), whom she has met before in Baden- Baden, but is there a fling between them in their previous encounter? The film never answer the question, a corny exploit being overused here.
Richard Harley's lyrical string score has stolen the thunder since more often than not, I am very much a visual observer than a sonic perfectionist. Also I quite prefer the slowly panning camera in carefully constructing a hunter and prey game in the beginning part in Baden- Baden to the dreadful and ostentatious meandering in the labyrinth of feigned sentimentality, claiming inane quips like "Englishwoman is the most romantic" (Berger's German accent is a major buzz-killer), I hope someone else could be fortunate enough to fully digest all the hocus-pocus and be grateful towards this ill-fated film adaption.
9 out of 18 people found the following review useful:
Last Year in Baden Baden, 26 June 2009
Author: James Hitchcock from Tunbridge Wells, England
Spa towns seem to have an odd effect on film-makers. Alain Resnais'
"Last year in Marienbad", set in the Czech spa town of that name, has a
reputation for being bafflingly obscure, so much so that it won itself
a place in Michael and Harry Medved's "Fifty Worst Films of All Time".
And then there is Joseph Losey's "The Romantic Englishwoman", part of
which is set in the German spa town of Baden Baden.
The plot concerns Elizabeth, the "romantic Englishwoman" of the title and the wife of a well-known novelist. While staying in Baden Baden Elizabeth has an affair with a young German named Thomas. Or does she? Is it possible that this "affair" was simply a fantasy on her part? Or does it only exist in the mind of her jealous husband Lewis? Thomas, an admirer of Lewis' work, later comes to stay with Lewis and Elizabeth at their home in England, where Lewis makes him surprisingly welcome for a man who is (or whom he believes to be) his wife's lover. There is also a sub-plot about Thomas' criminal associates, led by a man named Swan, who are pursuing him across Europe, but the exact details remain vague.
There is an adage that one should never judge a book by its cover, and the cinematic equivalent would probably be "don't judge a film by the big names in its title sequence". Even if you have admired the other work of those names. Michael Caine (now Sir Michael) is one of the cinema's greatest stars, appearing in some of the best British films of the sixties, seventies and eighties such as "Alfie", "Get Carter" and "Educating Rita". Glenda Jackson is today best known as a Labour politician, but was a fine actress in her youth. Scriptwriter Tom Stoppard is perhaps Britain's greatest living playwright. Losey was best known to me as the director of "The Go-Between", one of the major British films of the early seventies and one of the films which started the "heritage cinema" movement.
Unfortunately, all this assembled talent does not make for a good film. "The Romantic Englishwoman" goes to show that baffling obscurity was not a monopoly of the Nouvelle Vague and that British art-house film-makers could be just as infuriatingly obscure as their French counterparts. (Losey was American by birth, but I count him as an honorary Briton. He was forced to leave Hollywood during the McCarthy era because of his left-wing sympathies and thereafter worked mostly in Britain). I would not quite count this among my all-time fifty worst films, but it is nevertheless a dull and confusing one which not only lacks a clear storyline but also lacks any perceptible point. There are some films where ambiguity can be a positive virtue rather than a fault, but this is not one of them. 4/10
1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
must I re-watch losey?, 5 May 2012
Author: Karl Ericsson (firstname.lastname@example.org) from sweden
I used to avoid Joseph Losey, believing him to be just a b-s artist.
I'm halfway through watching this film and before Losey disappoints me,
which he maybe (or maybe not???) will, I would like write something
positive about him, because this film is, so far, a pleasant surprise.
It's about so called "jealousy", maybe not very analytic as to the
reason why we are jealous or what it means in different ages and sexes.
However, it is very much to the point and very descriptive about the
process of being jealous as far as the male goes.
The film has, so far (I'm currently watching the 62nd minute of it), made me laugh out loud, I think, twice. It has also shown Glenda in the buff and what a bushy buff! So there I got my money's worth right there and could go on watching more relaxed in that department.
Michael Caine is, like so often, superb. Glenda is superbly bushy (forgive me for repeating myself) and Helmut Berger is Helmut Berger, like he always is and I would never go to see a film just because he's in it (as opposed to Caine).
Incidentally, I don't know whether Stanley Kubrick saw this film but there are scenes in Eyes Wide Shut, when Tom Cruise imagines Nicole Kidman with another man, that is very similar to scenes in this film.
Well, if he (Losey) does not disappoint me in the end I guess I will have to re-watch some of his stuff (the Go Between wasn't so bad, by the way).
So, I saw it all and, yes, Losey did disappoint at least a little. He just cannot let it be, I guess. Or, which is more likely, he does not look too deeply into things. Nevertheless, this one is less disappointing than most of his work but it take the urge of a re-watch out of me.
You see, it's like this: infidelity means totally different things for men and women in this society that is being pressed down our throats. It also means different things in different ages of life. This society takes very lightly on the humiliation of the poor and expects the poor to take about just every disgrace possible believing it to be something else.
Women are pressed to manage to fight the right man as breeder and/or provider within a very short period of time, getting shorter when they are also supposed to have a career. Biologically, if the woman has a provider, she may still be doubtful about whether he is a good breeder or, more precisely, whether he has the proper genes to produce children that are attractive and can breed in turn, thus spreading her genes. If she has a breeder but no provider, she will look for that so that the children may reach adulthood safely and, again, be able to spread her genes.
The man, biologically, will have the urge to breed with as many women possible in order to get a large number of kids, not necessarily providing for any of them.
Now, providing for another man's children is not very wise for the man who wants to spread his own genes and therefore biologically humiliating. Therefore the jealousy of men.
Now, loosing provision for her children to another woman, is not very biologically smart for a woman, who needs protection of her children. Therefore the jealousy of women.
A woman betrays with her body, a man with his money to other women. A married man who uses other women without paying for them, will not give rise to much jealousy in his wife, unless she is getting older as well as her husband, who, when using other women may threaten to leave her some day. A woman who goes with other men will however always give rise to jealousy in her husband unless she is too old to get children and not very attractive to her husband. He will only get jealous for her companionship in this case, provided that he cares for it.
We, the people, used to know these things but through the propaganda of power, in which, sadly, even Losey in this film plays a part, we have gotten confused in these matters and jealousy has become a dirty word, when, in truth, it is just a healthy reaction on humiliation!
12 out of 26 people found the following review useful:
moody and mysterious, one of the best, 8 February 1999
Author: Bram-5 from Halifax, Nova Scotia
Ah, she is romantic. And he is jealous. And Helmut Berger is a cad. But you'll forgive all in this movie that begins in Baden Baden and ends in lost hope. No one dies though all suffer in some way. Hey, in this, it's just like real life. Romantic English women everywhere, if you ever wanted to run away from it all with a beautiful young man, this movie is your life.
8 out of 25 people found the following review useful:
worst film ever, 24 January 2009
Author: marieinkpen from United Kingdom
Is this the worst film ever made (not including Michael Winner's
re-make of The Big Sleep which was almost a spoof)? It starts
beautifully with Glenda Jackson looking out of a train window over
Germany set to lovely music and then it's all downhill from here on in.
Glenda Jackson looks stunningly beautiful but Wardrobe obviously had no
idea how to dress her in anything that actually suited her, Michael
Caine is rubbish as a jealous husband, no subtlety at all & even
unsubtle characters require a certain subtlety of acting. He is wholly
miscast as an intellectual & a creative type.
Occasional flashes of style but the "plot" is muddled & aimless, the script poor, the direction & editing are an utter mess. The whole thing is very 1970s & very difficult to watch without cringing. What an utter waste of time. A hundred minutes of my life that I'll never get back.
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