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Seven friends in an acting troupe graduate from Cambridge University in 1982 and go their separate ways. Ten years later, Peter inherits a large estate from his father, and invites the rest of the gang to spend New Year's holiday with him. Many changes have taken place in the lives of all the friends assembled, but Peter has a secret that will shock them all. Written by
Liza Esser <email@example.com>
Provocative British wit: a contemporary battle of the sexes
Good, solid drama in the best British style, replete with witty dialogues, more or less a showcase for Kenneth Branagh to bestow upon us something that is not in the least Shakespearian. Nicely-paced development lets the principal characters ease their way into the proceedings in an orchestrated way, such that there is a fine balance in screen presence as well as in the interwoven combinations of the players from scene to scene, very much in the straight theatre tradition. Therein lies a possible weakness: the film has a straight-jacket feel to it, as though indeed it was too severely and strictly transposed from the stage to the screen.
Very much in the vein of a `battle of the sexes', we have in `Peter's Friends' several couples meeting some years after graduating, supposedly to remember old times. I rather fancy that the ladies win this battle by a slight margin, as the performances by Imelda Staunton, Emma Thompson and Alphonsia Emmanuel manage to pull off a finely-tuned upper-hand over the gentlemen.
This is about the third time I have seen this film - and will doubtlessly see it again. However, having recently seen `Gosford Park' a couple of times, I cannot help marrying up the two films - and thus falling into the trap of comparing them. `Gosford Park' comes out clearly the winner: Altman's masterpiece.
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