Susan Traherne has been irreparably changed by her wartime experiences as a Resistance fighter. She sets out in the post-war world to make her way to what she wants, no matter who is hurt, or how. Written by
David Hare's brilliant stage play has been translated beautifully to the screen. The peculiar English trait of natural melancholy radiates throughout this sad exercise of seeing all through the lens of British class consciousness, repression and despair. The color photography, the performances, the stifling framing of the widescreen shots all add to the oppressive beauty of a story about the self-destruction of a preternaturally beautiful woman. Mery Streep has never been better before or since. Hare makes her intellectual acuity a weapon against herself as she sees through all the ghastly pretenses of a corroding Empire. No insight, no beauty of body, no letting go of formality and pretense can save her from herself. Feminism itself is taken to the burning stake as Streep's character thrashes, Hedda Gabbler like, against walls and prohibitions beyond her understanding. Rarely has such condemnation looked so ravishing.
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