A London art broker goes to Copenhagen where he requires the services of a secretary fluent in Danish, English, and German. He falls deeply in love with the woman, despite the fact that he ... See full summary »
A London art broker goes to Copenhagen where he requires the services of a secretary fluent in Danish, English, and German. He falls deeply in love with the woman, despite the fact that he knows virtually nothing about her. She insists on not being married in a church, and after they are married, some bad things from her past begin surfacing in subtly supernatural ways, and he must find the best way to deal with them without destroying their relationship. Written by
Ed Sutton <firstname.lastname@example.org>
One of the most amazing performances by an actress in the 1980s
For some mysterious reason which I shall never understand, the inspired and brilliant actress Meg Tilly has never achieved appropriate recognition for her amazing talent. This is one of her finest films, and yet it has never even been released as a DVD. I had to obtain a rare and expensive old VHS video of it, and even that was a 'screening copy for promotional purposes only', so that I wonder if even that was ever properly released. The film also contains what may well have been the finest performance by Rupert Frazer, who subsequently did most of his work for television, and has also been under-appreciated. Meg Tilly's performance in this film is so outstanding that it really is in a category of its own, far exceeding anything one would ever expect to see on screen. The history of the cinema is full of charmers and sirens, and many of the world's most beautiful women are there to be seen by one and by all. But sometimes on very rare occasions, something so special happens, someone so far excels the norm, that it is like a miracle. This is one of those occasions. As Rémy de Gourmont pointed out, the mediaeval poet Goddeschalk made an essential point when he wrote: 'You love in order to make yourself beautiful.' Here this is exquisitely portrayed by Meg Tilly, whose intense and passionate love for Rupert Frazer transforms her and makes her far more beautiful than she would normally be. We can see these physical changes take place in her in front of our very eyes. This is a magical transfiguration, like being witness to an act of sheer witchcraft. The film is excellently and sensitively directed by Gordon Hessler, who is now in his 80s and who retired from directing in 1991. There is excellent support from Nicholas Le Prevost, Lynsey Baxter, Helen Cherry (Trevor Howard's wife, in her last feature film), and others. But this film is essentially a story of love obsession between two people, into which a most devastating tragedy has intruded. The 'girl in a swing' is at the same time both a rare piece of porcelain depicting a girl on a swing, and Meg Tilly herself, whose apotheosis as a kind of incarnation of Aphrodite takes place in the garden when she has been swinging, with nothing on but a hat. There is a supernatural dimension to this film which only becomes clear towards the latter part of the story. Meg Tilly's character has been a girl of mystery from the beginning of the story, and the mystery only deepens and deepens. Rupert Frazer plays a very old-fashioned young Englishman of the sort who does not really exist anymore. He meets her in Copenhagen, she has an obscure or non-existent 'background', but they marry and she moves to England where they live for a while idyllically in his country house. The film is based upon a novel by Richard Adams. Much of it is set in Wiltshire, with several scenes taking place upon the great White Horse which is carved into the hilltop at Westbury, seen several times in magnificent aerial shots, along with lush shots of the sweeping green hills and fields of the West Country. The film has so much atmosphere that it crackles. The film would probably have failed if it were not for the central performance by Meg Tilly, as everything depends upon her being utterly convincing, and not many actresses could have summoned up the magic to become a naiad or dryad right before our bedazzled eyes in the way that she does. This film really is in a category of its own, a classic which has been entirely forgotten, or more probably was never recognised in the first place. How can the bewitching Meg Tilly possibly have been swept to one side as she was in her career, in favour of hordes of inferior actresses? I first saw her when Milos Forman's VALMONT (1989) was released a year after this film, and I thought she was extraordinary then. But this enthralling performance ranks with the greatest portrayals of a mysterious romantic woman in any film, in my opinion. The ultimate mysteries are those of the heart, as this film so magnificently and entrancingly reminds us.
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