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
I would stop f***ing talking if there were anything worth stopping f***ing talking for
I guess I've seen all of Meryl Streep's movies--even the silly one where her head is on backwards--but I think she was never better than in Plenty. It's basically a story about an English woman who risked her young life working for the French underground during the war and had the highest hopes for the world that would follow after the war ended. The film traces her increasing disgust with what in fact did follow.
She takes a succession of jobs--clerk for a shipping company, functionary for QE II's coronation, assistant producer for a TV ad company--while simultaneously married to stiff but devoted British diplomat Charles Dance and intermittently entertained by bohemian Tracy Ullman. Throughout all her disillusionment she hangs on to the memory of a quick affair with an English paratrooper she met in France. A token he gave her becomes the symbol of her hope.
Dance is top-notch as her long-suffering husband, trying to cope with her bouts of instability. Gielgud is excellent as Dance's boss, an ambassador trying to cope with British foreign policy. A short encounter between Streep and a Foreign Service bureaucrat, no less than Ian McKellan, is a sterling scene. Throughout the film the dialogue is as sharp as a razor.
All in all, I can't think of any film which more pointedly contrasts the drama of the war years with the anti-climax of the post-war years. It gives new meaning to The Best Years of Our Lives.
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