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1954, the Malabar Coast. British and Anglo-Indian identities blur when an English-woman with a neglectful husband births a sickly baby. Cotton Mary, a hospital aide and moralizing Anglophile who claims her father was a British officer, takes over the infant's care and, without a word to the mother, takes the baby daily to her sister to nurse. Mary moves into the English household, taking over more and more duties as she plays on the mother's fatigue and lack of spousal counsel: in effect, Mary colonizes the English household while she pilfers its stores and tells tall tales to her own family. For how long can Mary sustain her rule before the Englishwoman stands on her own feet? Written by
Thank Goodness Merchant and Ivory share some stuff.
They are both masters of creating an intoxicating atmosphere ! The scenery of their movies are always breathtakingly beautiful. 'Cotton Mary' is no exception.
And Ismael Merchant lured a leading lady into his picture that is even more gorgeous than all the scenery of the Merchant-Ivory films (in which she has shined so often) combined. Besides that, Greta Scacchi is an astonishing actress, and so she is again in this film. So fragile yet so present, what an enormous accomplishment !! Her performance alone deserves a (re)viewing of this film.
The other principal actors give us very nice portrayals too.
Somehow Merchant does not seem to be able to capture the excitement his partner Ivory finds so easily. Somehow this beautiful picture with good performances and a stunning Scacchi refuses to really fly after taking off nicely.
The film is not as bad as some would like you to believe, far from it. Imagery and acting and the technical side of filming, together with the beautiful scenery, will make 'Cotton Mary' an agreable pastime for 2 hours.
But surely it could have been so much more with all the talent and beauty assembled ? It was nice, where it could have been great. If the characters would have been given a bit more depth, this would have been a stunning film, instead of the nice one it is now...
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