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Interview Day (TV) More at IMDbPro »Eskimo Day (original title)

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10 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

Really well written character piece

Author: bob the moo from United Kingdom
30 July 2004

It is the day of interviews for admissions to Queens College Cambridge and several groups of parents and their children set out for Cambridge on coach, car and train. Meanwhile a former student sets out for a job interview at a local café and a Cambridge professor takes his reluctant father to see an old folks' home. As they interact, go through the interviews and wait for each other outside, we learn a lot about them from their conversations.

In the past few weeks I have been fortunate enough to be able to watch several of the work of writer Jack Rosenthal, the only downside of this chance was that it only came about due to his death earlier this year from cancer. I was aware Rosenthal had been a writer on Coronation Street back when it started but other than that I didn't know a great and never really watched any of his stuff at the time of release. I came to this film with an open mind and I was happy enough when it started out as a sort of comedy drama about several groups of people and interviews. In some regards the film keeps in this mood with plenty of dialogue that is amusing in a 'Talking Heads' sort of fashion but then, like that wonderful collection of films, the writing here allows us to get into the characters despite only having met them for an hour or more. The dialogue is comic and natural and you never doubt for a moment that these are real people. Kudos to Rosenthal for writing realistic dialogue for a range of very different characters and situations.

The direction is also very good, matching the tone of the film and being content to observe just as we do. Of course it needed a great cast to be able to understand and deliver the characters and it is lucky enough to have them. Lipman is as good as always in this type of fare even if her character is a bit of a comic one. Wilkinson and Carteret are a good combination and their marriage and personalities are wonderfully delivered through their performances and dialogue. Ross is good and Guinness is also excellent – moving even if his thread doesn't totally fit in with the rest of the film.

Overall the film is excellent and it is almost totally down to the great writing from Rosenthal. His characters and his dialogue are very real and natural and they are so well drawn that we can see their whole lives in just over an hour. The cast rise to the material and there are no weak links even if one or two of the minor plot threads could easily have been lost. Just like the wonderful Talking Heads – insightful, witty and clever writing makes for great characters and an interesting story that the cast all rise to deliver.

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7 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

what a charmer!

10/10
Author: kjff from Minneapolis, Minnesota
14 July 2003

This charming treasure, starring Alec Guinness, features fine, understated acting at its best. this is a must see for people who like little stories about ordinary people acted beautifully and revealing that they're not so ordinary after all.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Humor, irony, and depth

Author: Doug MacDonald (dhmacdon@star.net) from Massachusetts
18 May 2000

Seemingly unprepossessing as it opens, _Interview Day_ (it was aired under this title by WGBH) gains humor, irony, and depth as it follows the anxious introduction of three young applicants to Cambridge University and the visit to a nursing home of one of the interviewing faculty along with his reluctant father (a retired don). It explores the limits of reach of the family, even the most loving family, as an adolescent or elderly parent moves beyond its power to protect.

As each family approaches this reality the caregivers attempt, sometimes comically, sometimes painfully, always awkwardly, to navigate the transition along with their loved one. Ultimately they realize that they cannot. But this misses the humane, hopeful attitude brought to the film by all involved. People (most people at least) are open to learning from change and to finding the best in it.

A moment of pure magic occurs when Neil's ditzy, superstitious mother experiences an epiphany of loss as she watches her son head in for his interview, and he (not knowing quite why) turns to wave goodbye. Something has moved, all have felt it, but Shani (the intuitive of the group) is the one who understands what it means. It is an intimation of mystery, of workings beyond anyone's ken, and for those with faith, of reassurance.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Well made, well written, poignant comedy drama

10/10
Author: Chris Whitworth (chris@parm.net) from London, England
15 January 2000

This is a superbly written and acted comedy drama about the emotional trials and strains on a family as the eldest children go through the University applications process. It focuses particularly on the mothers role in the family, and how she fears she will become redundant after the children leave. (The title refers to an ancient Eskimo practise whereby when the children leave, the mother sees her role as being finished and she just walks out into the snow to die.)

We follow three prospective students through their interview days at Cambridge university, and the relationships they strike up with each other - and how the families react to this as well; a major part of this is the reaction of the rather more 'well-bred' girl's family to the unstated suggestion that she has fallen for the boy from the more 'normal' family.

The plot is very simple, and is really secondary to the superb acting and exploration of the emotions experienced by the families.

It was a particularly poignant drama for me, as it was screened just at the time I was going through exactly the same thing. It pressed all the right emotional buttons, and Maureen Lipman's role as the overworried mother is superbly well played. I'm not sure if it's possible to get hold of this film any more (as it was only screened as a TV movie) but it's definitely well worth seeing if you can. See also the follow-up, Cold Enough for Snow.

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