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A fool and his money. In the 1930s, Adam Fenwick-Symes is part of the English idle class, wanting to marry the flighty Nina Blount. He's a novelist with a hundred-pound advance for a manuscript confiscated by English customs. He spends the next several years trying to get money and to set a wedding date: he trades in gossip, wins money on wagers then gives it to a drunken major who's suggested he bet on a horse in an upcoming race. Adam tries to get the money back, but can't find the major. Meanwhile, Nina needs security, friends drink too much, and general unhappiness spoils the party. Then war breaks out. Is Adam's bright youth dimming with the fall of an empire? Written by
Director Stephen Fry commissioned two contemporary songs from The Pet Shop Boys for the movie - a cover version of Noel Coward's "The Party's Over Now" and a Pet Shop Boys-penned title track. The title track was written and recorded but the director elected not to use any Pet Shop Boys' performances, preferring to utilize only period music in the film. See more »
A television aerial can be seen on the right hand rooftops in the external shot of the hotel that Adam and Nina stay at. See more »
Oh Nina, what a lot of parties... Masked parties, Savage parties, Victorian parties, Greek parties, Wild West parties, Circus parties, parties where you have to dress as somebody else, almost naked parties in St. John's Wood, parties in flats and studios and houses and ships and hotels and nightclubs, in swimming baths and windmills. Dances in London so dull. Comic dances in Scotland and disgusting dances in the suburbs. All that succession and repetition of massed humanity. All those vile ...
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Stephen Fry is such a prodigious polymath that it's no surprise what a good fist he's made of his directorial debut. That's not to say it's wholly successful; the characters are so shallow that it is hard to warm to them, although it should be pointed out that this is not necessarily a fault. Indeed, it's refreshing these days to find a film in which characters are not trying to ingratiate themselves. Emily Mortimer is exempt from this observation in any case, as she's just so adorable - and is it just me or does she look a dead spit for the young Mary Steenburgen?
I found not only the camerawork but the lighting extremely gaudy, sometimes offputtingly so. However, Fry is admirably adventurous in some of his camera sweeps, not playing it safe as some inexperienced directors do.
As to the performances, it is true that Simon Callow hams it up quite outrageously (although he still wrung a couple of chuckles out of me), and I found Michael Sheen's uber-camp queen rather wearing, until his scene at the end which I thought he handled well. I know I'm not the first person to say this, but it bears repetition: Fenella Woolgar is a revelation in this film, conveying the insouciance of the upper class effortlessly (and the scene after the "orgy" with the stern family is priceless). James McEvoy was excellent too.
Oh, and by the way, to whomever described Evelyn Waugh as "herself one of the beauties of the age" - you may have been joking, but in case not, Evelyn Waugh was in fact a curmudgeonly man who would no doubt have snorted to hear himself thus described!
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