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Memoir of the lives of a family growing up on a post World War I British estate headed up by a strong disciplinarian, her daughter, her inventor husband, their ten year old son, and his older sister. Through the household comes a number of suitors hoping to impress the young woman, including an aviator. When the elder woman's son shows up at the estate with his French fiancé, everything gets thrown into turmoil. The young boy takes a sudden interest in her sexual allure and his father is disturbed by his own non-Victorian feelings. Written by
John Sacksteder <email@example.com>
The film is based on the memoirs of Denis Forman, a British television mogul born 10/13/1917, and is presumed to be set in 1927 when Denis Forman turned 10 years old (the age of Fraser Pettigrew in the film). See more »
(at around 53 mins) When Edward crosses stage right to Uncle Morris MacIntosh a reflection of the boom mic is clearly visible in the glass covering the artwork on the back wall. See more »
This is a delightful movie. It's based on a man's nostalgic look backward at a slice of his childhood spent on a Scottish country estate in the 1920s. Narrated by the author as a ten-year-old boy, it recounts a period in which both he and his capricious father learn some important lessons about themselves and about each other.
There is little plot to speak of--just life unfolding variously in its sweetness and pain, often tinged with a delicious whimsy. Be warned, though, that much as you may be disposed to like the father, he is a flawed man; his pathetic and childish attitudes are often painfully embarrassing to the viewer. Also, sexual references permeate this film, and there is a strong suggestion that youthful sexual curiosity ought to be given free reign. Parents with a contrary view might wish to give it a look before showing it to their children.
The cinematography is excellent, deftly making the most of the fine Scottish landscape.
But the music--ah! The music is wonderful, from the first folk-tinged strain, through Beethoven and Saint-Saëns, to the Louis Armstrong ending. Few films are so musically satisfying.
The role of the childish and inarticulate father, Edward Pettigrew, is nicely developed by Colin Firth. Rosemary Harris is his aristocratic, but good-natured mother-in-law, who actually owns the estate inhabited by her daughter and Edward and their progeny; Harris handles her part with great understanding and humour. The children are natural and believable, and the servants are well-picked and quirky--their kitchen conversations add much warmth to this work.
For me, the ending credits revealed a lovely surprise: that the reflections of the boy, Fraser Pettigrew, actually come from a memoir written by Sir Denis Forman. I know that name well; Forman is also the author of my favorite opera guide, a cleverly designed, but funny and irreverent book appropriately titled, "The Good Opera Guide." (But don't be put off by the U.S. title, "A Night at the Opera"; it's a wonderful book by any name.)
Small wonder, then, that this movie has such a fine soundtrack.
Rating: 8 for the movie, 10 for the opera book.
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