After a lifetime in the spotlight.Lady Slane, the 85 year old wife of a recently deceased politician is allowed to shed her public persona and retreat to a cottage in the Hampstead ...
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After a lifetime in the spotlight.Lady Slane, the 85 year old wife of a recently deceased politician is allowed to shed her public persona and retreat to a cottage in the Hampstead countryside. Rediscovering her identity is no easy task with family members constantly meddling in her affairs. Brilliantly adapted from Vita Sackville-West's classic novel, this masterpiece was nominated for four BAFTA.
Wendy Hiller turns in a lovely performance in All Passion Spent, a 1986 miniseries from Britain.
Hiller plays Lady Slane, who, when we first see her, has just lost her husband and is sitting near his deathbed. Her family is present, downstairs in the house discussing her future and the fact that she will have enough to live on but will be unable to stay in the large home she shared with her husband. He had been a prominent man and she had devoted her life to him and to her children.
Her children have her life worked out for her. She will live with each one of them for a time each year. But Lady Slane has her own ideas. She wants to live in Hampstead Heath, in a cottage she saw some years ago, and she's learned it's available. No one is happy about this, but promise to visit so that she will have visitors each day. She makes short work of that. She's not interested in having visitors every day.
The house is ramshackle, but it is redone with the help of a land agent, Gervase Buckrout (Maurice Denham), and Lady Slane happily moves in with her maid Genoux (Eileen Way) who has been with her forever. She tends to the garden, goes for walks, and revels in the peace and contemplation that she has longed for.
Gradually she builds a new circle of friends. An old acquaintance comes in her life, Mr. Fitzgeorge (Harry Andrews) who obviously has always been in love with her since he met her as a young woman. Together, they reminisce. Her great-granddaughter Deborah (Jane Snowden), who is unhappily engaged, visits her for advice. It's a joyous time for Lady Slane, as she and her friends laugh together and discuss their philosophies of life.
Scripts aren't this talky anymore - and this one is constant talk. It takes some getting used to. There's no action to speak of - it's more a piece about a woman finally coming into her own after many years of being a devoted wife and mother and not being able to be who she is. It's such a wonderful, enviable way that she's chosen to live, though her family doesn't get it - at all.
Wendy Hiller is a much more attractive elderly woman than she ever was as a young one with her beautiful skin, high cheekbones, and a twinkle in her eye. She looks marvelous and her acting is perfection. She is such a generous actress, not hogging scenes but rather making the film a true ensemble.
While nothing much seems to happen on the outside, everything happens to Lady Slane on the inside as she makes peace with her life and enjoys the solitude and the country, as well as the friendship of those around her. Truly a beautiful film that will leave a lasting impression.
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