War Bride (2001)
User ReviewsAdd a Review
In what could have been a very pedestrian story, timing is key. Director Lyndon Chubbuck handles this carefully, leaving it until wartime London has become familiar to whip us away to Canada and then leaving it until Lily is finally at home to rock the boat again. To guide us through this we are offered no easy timescale; no regular radio broadcasts counting down the end of the war, no montage of letters to mark the time Lily and Charlie (Aden Young) are apart. A quick blast of a public information film dissolves into Lily arriving in Canada and the rest of the film rests almost entirely on Friel's performance. Portraying a delicate balance of European femme fatal and ordinary London lass, she gets it right every time.
Additional to her fish out of water dilemma is Lily's growing attraction to local boy Joe (Loren Dean). Lily, who dresses in risqué clothing to provoke the old-fashioned community, is continually referred to as a 'tart' and because of Friel's balanced performance and the juxtaposition of modern and wartime values the film's ending is genuinely uncertain.
This is a war-story with no war. The only death takes place off camera, the only major disfigurement is the result of polio not violence. With no pretensions to heroics or history, The War Bride is a simple story, well told.
Superficially, the film could be seen as yet another variation on the "liberating outsider" scenario (a popular feminist theme exploited most recently in "Chocolat"), although in "The War Bride" there is considerably more going on than Lily simply teaching her in-laws how to cut loose and live a little. The weightier theme, which develops steadily throughout the film, deals with the inescapable effects of a global war and the extent to which a conflict can still wreak emotional havoc on those furthest removed from actual combat.
***** out of *****
--and even though it is a war movie it has some extremely funny parts in it--
If you love 1940's era films, this is a must.
I rush into my room, slam it into the DVD Player (the one in our living room wasn't working) and began to watch this incredible movie. First off, my teenage girl senses kicked in and I'm drooling over Aden Young in no time flat! Anna Friel, who'd I'd seen in one other film just the night before, was amazing as Lily. I probably would have acted the same way as she did. I don't know. If people talked about me the way they talked about her, I definitely would have worn the red dress! ****SPOILERS*****My favorite scene I think has to be where Charley breaks down after showing Lily his journal. A sucker for men unafraid to show their emotions I cried right along with him. As well as when Sofie comes to the house after learning of Louie's death. I cried with Lily and Sofie and said along with Lily "Why didn't you tell me?" Brenda Fricker has been one of my favorites ever since she was The Bird Lady in "Home Alone 2." I was thrilled to learn she was in this movie. ***SPOILER***I love the part where Lily fixes everyone dinner, and everyone except Joe and Betty (Fricker) are sitting back away from their plate while Joe and Betty are leaning over their plates and loving every bite! My Dad sat on the couch watching it with me a few days later and said, rather loudly, "WELL...MAMA'S ENJOYING IT!" Anna Friel, Brenda Fricker, Aden Young and Loren Dean, as well as everyone else cast in this wonderful movie was perfect for the role they were given. I loved every minute of this wonderful movie. I recommend that if you ever see it anywhere, to rent or to buy, that you rent or buy it immediately! It is one of my favorites!
Two working girls in the London Blitz of 1940, living and dressing far beyond the means of people at the time, go to a little neighborhood dance which apparently contains a 38 piece dance band very like Glenn Miller which is heard but never seen and which only plays the most acceptable (to today's youth that is) jump tunes, where they meet a couple of Canadian soldiers. The quick gloss, the clothes and the music, are, like the hairstyles, retro cool but really don't reflect the reality of the period. The plot is just twisted in order to present these cool artifacts.
There is a farewell scene, the de rigour scene in every war movie since BIRTH OF A NATION and most famously done in THE BIG PARADE (King Vidor). After nine days the soldiers take leave of the girls to go off to the front. What front would that be is the question. After Dunkirk there wasn't much of a front to go off to. Certainly not by truck. They weren't going to drive across the English Channel were they. Forget that the truck they drive off is in US Army markings years before the US entered the war. And we have to have a pregnancy scene, despite everything we know about human biology, the girl announces she's pregnant.
As usual everything is manipulated to have these predetermined scenes taken from other war movies.
The girls, now married are evacuated, as wives of Canadian soldiers, to Canada. I doubt very much that they would have taken a heavy cruiser across the Atlantic in as much as they might have been better used protecting convoys and sinking the Bismarck etc. I think that the idea was to build a spectacular set of one slight angle of the deck of a ship with a huge gun turret in the background as a suitably dramatic setting. The train journey across Canada is one bad trip. The one room station located in the middle of the forest stands in for both Montreal, Canada's largest city, as well as rural Alberta. All right, it was a low budget picture but a little of what was wasted on the gun turret scene could have at least paid for a glass shot or still insert showing Montreal.
When the war bride arrives she is met by her comically dour mother-in law and her crippled daughter. Life will be hard on the farm. I've seen that picture too so if you're still on board at this point please be my guest as you have another hour and a half compilation of stock scenes and stilted reactions. Unbelievable, but even stranger is the reaction of young people who believe this phoney stuff to somehow be authentic.
Regardless, I still think the film needed to be made and I am glad somebody did it. It was overall enjoyable to watch.
I also found the characters and plot lines were poorly conceived and hard to relate to, not to mention the hideous amount of soapy melodrama of nasty characters bashing another; hardly profound story-telling.
However, I'm not completely bashing this as nonsense that isn't worth anyone's time, for it is an entertaining and interesting drama story to watch, just don't expect a masterpiece. It's a typical BBC costume drama for Sunday evenings.