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51 out of 57 people found the following review useful:

The Etiology of Rebellion

Author: gradyharp from United States
20 June 2005

In 1983 Julian Mitchell wrote a play based on fact about a young man (Guy Bennett) who, seeing the constraints of British society circa 1930, embraces his sexuality in a time when even the words were criminal, sees through the sad folly of the British class and empire system, and eventually abandons England to become a spy for Russia. The played starred a young 21-year-old Rupert Everett and a 20-year-old Kenneth Branagh as Guy's heterosexual roommate Tommy Judd, an obsessed Marxist as ready to leap out of the norm of British society as Guy - but for different reasons. Director Marek Kanievska adapted Mitchell's challenging play for the screen, and in 1984 ANOTHER COUNTRY became a sterling recreation of the play and a controversial film introducing the extraordinarily talented and continuingly popular Rupert Everett (who remains one of the few 'out' actors enjoying success in Hollywood). Colin Firth assumed the role of Tommy and Cary Elwes became the gay love interest for Everett's Guy Bennett. The film is one of the finest examinations of the rigid, archaically proper British schools for young men (Eton) where class is paramount in importance, rank reigns, and medieval views of sexuality and out of line thought are treated with public corporal punishment and (worst of all!) the inability to rise in the ranks of the 'important' lads. Throughout the film there is a powerful parallel between Guy's striving to become the head of the class being thwarted by his pursuing is passion for his love of men, and the 'religious zeal' approach of Tommy's absorption in Marxism, seeing Communism as the only way to correct the 'vile sickness' of current British politics and social strata. The undercurrents of bigotry are brought into focus when a fine young lad (Martineau) is caught in a sexual act with one of his classmates and is shamed into hanging himself. And when Guy's sexual tryst with James Harcourt is 'discovered', Guy is beaten in front of his compatriots, prompting him to see (with Tommy in agreement) the dead-end of British society and leave the remnants of a once glorious empire behind.

As a delightful Special Feature on this very well made DVD there is a scene from the stage production in the year prior to the film, and the dialogue between Rupert Everett and Kenneth Branagh is incisive and brilliant. This film is a masterpiece, not only in the screenplay, but also in the sensitive direction, the exquisite cinematography, and the amazingly superb acting of not only Everett and Firth, but of the entire large cast. An absolutely brilliant film.

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38 out of 40 people found the following review useful:

Truly brilliant, although quintessentially English

Author: fodwod from Heart of England
3 August 2003

I was living in France when this film was first released. I had seen the stage play and thoroughly enjoyed it. The film was so good I actually saw it twice over it's opening weekend.

The bulk of the action is set in an English boarding school in the 1930s. This is marvelously portrayed - school bullies, inter house rivalries, the cadet force, cricket - and there is some marvelous interaction between Rupert Everett and Colin Firth. The latter's impassioned defence of Stalin is understated comedy at its finest.

This is a film of great subtlety and beauty, well acted, and underpinned by a haunting soundtrack.

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33 out of 37 people found the following review useful:

visually and dramatically impressive

Author: hugh1971 from London
22 January 2002

This film is both visually and dramatically impressive. From the outset, we are treated to lavish cinematography of Eton College and its grounds and the surrounding countryside. This is contrasted with the drab scenes of Moscow from where Guy Bennet recounts his story. Everything is bathed in a golden glow, backed up by the sound of boyish voices singing hymns (the title itself comes from popular school hymn 'I vow to Thee my Country'; which was sung at the funeral of Princess Diana in 1997).

This contrasts starkly with the brutality of the school's disciplinary system, where one boy is so ashamed of being caught in a homosexual act that he hangs himself in the school chapel. Those who question the school's code become outcasts, such as Bennet and Judd, unless they are 'useful' in some way - ie when Judd is needed to prevent an unpopular boy becoming head of house.

One important fact I noticed is that you hardly ever see a master in the school, and you never see the boys in lessons: this shows Eton not as merely a school, but as a microcosm of society with its own specific hierarchy.

There is interesting character development: Bennett, initially a philanderer who takes nothing seriously, eventually realises that he is a confirmed homosexual and begins to understand Judd's vision of a perfect society possible through communism ('not heaven on earth, but earth on earth - a just earth')Similarly Judd realises that sometimes it is necessary to sacrifice one's principles for the greater good.

There is a lot about this film that is hackneyed - the bullying, sadistic prefects, the angelic boys with floppy fringes singing chapel anthems, the stock rebellious phrases etc, (and I won't even mention Guy Bennet's ludicrous old-man makeup)but overall it is a beautiful piece of cinematography with some good acting from the young Mr Everett and Mr Firth.

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24 out of 27 people found the following review useful:

Beautiful and evocative period piece

Author: pixielynx from United States
2 August 2007

Another Country is a very telling portrait of life at one of England's top private schools in the 1930s. On the surface, everything looks perfect. Privileged youth frolics in a variety of beautiful locations, whilst receiving the best education money could buy. It all looks idyllic, but of course, there is a dark underbelly of violence and prejudice that provokes a life changing decision for the main character, Guy Bennett, played very elegantly by Rupert Everett. Colin Firth's character provides a nice Communist commentary on the appalling elitism of English society and he and Everett both turn in exceptional performances. This movie clearly launched both of their careers.

Although the natural beauty of the locations would have made it hard for anyone to make an ugly picture, this film is so exquisitely shot and scored, that it is almost painful at times. Sure there are some bad moments (Rupert Everett's terrible make up for his scenes as the aged Bennett springs to mind and there is a certain clichéd quality to some of the scenes) but on the whole, the good far outweighs the bad.

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20 out of 22 people found the following review useful:

A Lovely Film

Author: brian_wescott
6 September 2001

I saw this movie again the other day and am impressed at how well it has held up. Though it's a little hard to follow the arcane hierarchies of 1930s British public school life, that is precisely the point-- these people are suffocating in the meaningless rituals of their class. Rupert Everett and Colin Firth give outstanding performances as the openly gay and communist members of their school, and the unfolding of the relationship between Everett and Cary Elwes is some of the most romantic footage I've ever seen. Though very few of us live in such a stratified social climate these days, we would do well to understand the webs of hierarchy and ritual that bind us all in one way or another.

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30 out of 42 people found the following review useful:

An overlooked important movie.

Author: dbdumonteil
30 June 2002

Forget the prologue which preludes the long flashback which is the core of the movie.First scene:in a room,two boys make love while,in the main courtyard of the posh school (Eton?),a ceremony commemorates the dead soldier of WW1,with pump and circumstance:the two bedrocks of the family, Army and Religion taking in hand the third one:School.Behind these walls,inside these venerable buildings,mortal hatred ,intolerance and repression are looming.Outside,the splendid landscapes are unchanging,particularly this quiet river which comes back as a leitmotiv.And most of the students wants to keep the world as it is,because they know they are part of the privileged few.Their studies are a mere rehearsal of their life-to-be. Becoming a prefect,what a feat! Being called "god" what a honor! Being able to push the others out of your way,that makes you a man!

Two young men refuse the rules of the game:the first one ,Tommy (a good Colin Firth),the most loyal character of a rather obnoxious. gathering.He sticks to his ideals,and he will die for them.He believes in Marx and in Stalin(we're in the thirties ) ;he would never betray anybody,and the audience sides with him most of the time. The second one ,Guy,(Rupert Everett at his best)is a gay,in love with a younger pal.He,too,rebels against this rigid institutions,but he's more complex:actually he tries to become a prefect and then a god,because he has kept his ambitions and he would easily opt for a compromise solution.He could but he will not..Homosexuality,when it's secret is no problem for the bourgeois society.Guy's character will mute and finally he realizes that he cannot live in the shadow.That's his downfall.

No commies,no gays can be part of the crème de la crème.The posh school reputation,once the non-straight ones(in the general sense of the word)are eradicated,can sleep the sleep of the just.

Sometimes compared with Lindsay Anderson's "If"(1970),its atmosphere is drastically different though :there's no dreamlike sequences here,no madness.It rather recalls "der junge Torless" (Schloendorff,1966)and it might have influenced James Ivory's "Maurice" (1986). An overlooked important movie.

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16 out of 19 people found the following review useful:

One of the Landmark Films of the 80s...A Landmark Film, Period

Author: Sebastian (sts-26) from Canada
20 January 2008

Another Country was one of those films that both captured the spirit of an era and helped define it - in the best possible sense. While one can easily lump all 80s pop music and fashion together as over-styled and kitschy, it is not possible to do so with the films of that decade, certainly not the British ones, not with Chariots of Fire, Educating Rita, My Beautiful Launderette and Another Country so vividly remembered. These were works of art, perfectly weaving style and substance together. Another Country presents a complex tale with - what was/is to some - unpalatable subject matter, and indecipherable detail (the life of the British upper class is, and always was, amusing, bizarre, implausible. Gilbert and Sullivan built careers on this fact). Yet, there is no sign of attempts to simplify, or strip out the seemingly unnecessarily intricate, or to moralize - either way - beyond the context of the story, the homosexuality depicted. The result is a film that is detailed, rich, compelling and (in a strange way, despite the historical facts upon which the story is based) apolitical.

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11 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

Ambition vs. Principles -- which would you choose?

Author: adkmilkmaid from New York
4 October 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Forget the premise that homosexuality was the reason Burgess became a spy... a dubious conclusion. This movie is about ambition and how far one is willing to sacrifice one's principles to achieve it. The premise is explicitly stated in the opening frames with the voice-over from the aged Guy Bennett (fictionalized Burgess): "You've no idea what life in England in the 1930s was like. Treason and loyalty... they're all relative, you know. Treason to what? Loyalty to whom? That's what matters."

It is the 1930s in a famous public school in England. Rupert Everett is the star turn as homosexual Guy Bennett, who longs to become a "God" (head boy) as a senior; Colin Firth plays the supporting role of his best friend Tommy Judd, a devout Communist. It was the first film for each actor and they're both terrific right out of the box.

While Guy (RE) is self-consciously theatrical (he refers grandly to a "tumescent archway") the dialogue between the two roommates is simple and real. In one scene Guy puts a quick move on Tommy (CF). He comes up behind Tommy, puts one hand over his eyes to pull his head back and with the other rapidly starts unbuttoning Tommy's pajama shirt.

G: Alone at last! T: (bored/amused) Get OFF. G: I'll get you one day. T: No you won't. G: Yes I will. Everyone gives in, in the end. It's Bennett's Law. T: I won't give in. G: Well, you're not normal. (later) G: The reason everyone gives in in the end is they get lonely, doing it on their own. They long for company. T: Well, I don't. Not your sort, anyway. G: (insisting) That's why my mother is marrying this awful Colonel person. T: It couldn't just possibly be that she loves him? G: Out of the question. He's got one of those awful little mustaches. Ghastly. Almost as much of a loather as my father was. T: (amused) You mean even you would draw the line? G: Don't be revolting. He's a grownup. T: Of course. And it's all just a passing phase. G: Exactly. Just like you being a Communist. T: (sarcastic) Ha ha. G: (pause) Judd-- T: Hmm? G: You and your usherette -- T: What about her? G: Is it really so different? T: From what? G: BOYS. T: Well how would I know? I've only ever had a girl.

The whole scene takes place as the boys are changing the linens on their bunks, going down to the laundry room, folding sheets, getting new ones. It's a great, understated scene. Tommy Judd is calmly not threatened by Guy's flamboyance and homosexuality. What resonates throughout the movie is the feeling of genuineness and honesty between these two in a cavernous school where everything is about power, leverage, and bullying.

The struggles in the movie concern ambition vs. principles. Guy is determined to be a God. Will Tommy sacrifice his principles for his friend's ambition? Will he sacrifice them simply for his friend? Meanwhile will Guy sacrifice his boyfriend for his own ambition?

T: I can't do it. I just cannot be a prefect. G: Why not? T: I do have my reputation, you know. G: (snorts) Your what? T: I'm a school joke, I quite realize that. But I am, don't you think, a respected joke? I do at least stick to my principles. People appreciate that. I abandon them now --

and he winds himself up into a passionate speech about how people will think he's a fake, Communists are fake, and Stalin's a fake! He's almost in tears -- and then the head boy comes and he has to dive under a table (he and Guy are out of bed after hours)!

Finally: G: (speaking of the head boy): My God, that man is really cracking up. T: Liberals always do under pressure. G: You know, you're a really hard man, Tommy. T: I've no time for him. He just wants a nice easy life and a nice easy conscience. And he's got no right to either.

There are a lot more great exchanges. G: (sarcastically, about Communism) Heaven on Earth? T: (calmly) Earth on earth. A just earth.

The friendship between Guy Bennett and Tommy Judd seems far more touching and real -- far more the heart of the movie -- than the sketched-in affair between Guy and James Harcourt, the character played by Cary Elwes.

The whole production is filled with dewy, beautiful boys, starting with Everett, who at 24 is painfully gorgeous with his big eyes and ripe, petulant mouth. Firth at 23 has the sweetness of youth but otherwise is allowed to appear rather skinny and plain. (No eyebrows, hair standing on end, and 1930s round spectacles.) But his eyes glow with intensity and commitment. You totally believe his passion. Very tough to believe it was his first time in front of a camera.

The movie itself is far from perfect. Some might think it slow and rather precious. But the messages about ambition and loyalty are timeless, and the Everett/Firth scenes are wonderful.

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13 out of 18 people found the following review useful:

Good acting in small drama

Author: Boyo-2
30 October 2000

Every actor in the movie is perfectly suited to their character, and you can't day that about every movie you see.

Rupert is in love with a ray of sunshine in the human form of Cary Elwes, and Colin is screaming for the revolution to begin. The movie is about them, what living in England at the time would have been like, and what living in a boys school was like also.

The boys seem to accept Rupert because it is widely assumed that he will grow out of it. When he declares it as a way of life, his unhappiness begins. He is able to be friends with Colin Firth because they are both outcasts in their way ("The Commie and the queer" is how he describes them at one point").

The movie is very enjoyable and it is worth a look. You've spent ninety minutes doing stupider things than watching this.

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Brilliant little period film

Author: MieMar from United Kingdom
5 August 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This film is ageing brilliantly well. OK, the end might, the chat about accepting your sexuality etc, be very much of its time and of the stage where the film originated, but the film is crisp and, despite its slowness, wonderfully alive. The classically beautiful photography also helps the timeless feel of it.

In the scenes of Everett and Firth the film really comes alive, and the actors have hardly since been better. Firth of course has less to do but the strange Firth hallmark reserve - which Tom Ford exploited for A Single Man but for me, in most roles including that one, makes him somehow permanently fake - has not yet set in. Judd, the character, holds himself back but is present in a way that older Firth rarely manages. Everett, without a doubt, has never been better. Which, in itself, is a bit of a tragedy. Its a fantastic role but he is stunningly good, subtle and showy at the same time. No wonder that Orson Welles was impressed. His Guy is insolent, vulnerable, naive, world-wise, cynical, poetic, open, deceptive, gentle and ruthless. I was a bit of an admirer of Everett's work and persona even before seeing this film - he seems one of the last real people out there, in the homogenised, we're all just lovely people, really, fame-game arena - but find to my disappointment that his acting work is too often the least interesting thing about him. Which, truly, is a pity because as this film shows, he really has the goods as an actor - and clearly enough experience and emotional honesty in real life too - to actually really grab us, draw us in and make us feel for him, with him. But in a lot of his work it seems he rarely brings the full package of emotions to work, happy to perform a facet of a man for us - often a rather glib one - rather than a full creature. I'd love to see him do something brave again, as I am sure that the man and the actor he is now could wash the floor with his younger self, in terms of complex, deeply felt emotion.

Another Country, with is milieu of extreme constraint, beautifully frames the feeling and behaviour of the boys it observes, and the focus on the endless rituals of the boarding school life also work to remind us how world is out to shape these boys (a kind of an anti-Harry Potter/Trinian's, in that aspect) and works still as a metaphor for society at large. In some ways times have changed less than we'd hope - or less than it looked like it would change, a few decades ago - even if caning is a distant memory.

I wanted to give Another Country 9 stars but unfortunately, although the cast in uniformly very strong I feel that the third key role, Guy's love interest James, hasn't dated well and the performance is flat, leaving Everett to do all the work in their scenes. For the film to overcome the slight staginess of the ending and to give real meaning to the innocent way that Guy and James choose to conduct their romance when boys around them are clearly habitually doing much more would have needed an actor who could match Firth and Everett in terms of interpretation of a role.

Oh, and people who can be bothered to complain about the old-man make up on Everett at the end - get a life. This is a film, all latex looks fake, even today, how ever much you choose to believe it, for what ever reason.

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