When a young girl is found dead an inspector is sent to investigate a prosperous Yorkshire household. It emerges that each member of the family has a guilty secret - each one is partly responsible for her death.
Set in 1912, an Upper class English family are celebrating their daughter's engagement when their evening is interrupted by a police inspector. He is investigating the suicide of a young woman and the events leading to her death.
Inspector Karl (Louis Koo), the eponymous inspector who pays a visit to the opulent Kau family estate, where things are not as rosy as they appear. Family heads Mr. and Mrs. Kau (Eric Tsang... See full summary »
This is a nicely presented version of J. B. Priestley's 1945 play about class distinctions, exploitation, and the nature of communal guilt.
Here is this stately family sitting around the dinner table in 1912. There's the pater familias, Mr. Berling, his starchy wife Sybil, his pretty daughter Shiela, his quietly drunk young son Eric, and the ambitious suitor for Shiela's hand, Gerald Croft. Then the doorbell of the mansion rings and the maids usher in a police inspector named Goole, who has come to make some inquiries about the rather nasty suicide of a poor young lady a a few hours ago. None of the diners have heard of her. But by the time the inspector is finished with his questions, the family is in turmoil and their bonds shredded.
It's a powerful play. One by one, the guests are questioned and it's revealed that each of them had in some serial way contributed to the girl's death. Mr. Berling had fired her for participating in a strike at his factory. Shiela had had her fired from a boutique out of jealousy. Croft, the suitor, had taken up with her and had an affair for some months before ending it, although the girl was in love with him. The weak son Eric had picked her up when she was down and impregnated her before stealing some money and sending her on her way. Mrs. Berling, head of a community organization for poverty stricken ladies in trouble, had turned her away. Each person, without knowing it, and without knowing of the involvement of the others, had contributed to the girl's horrible death.
Inspector Goole leaves, warning them that if people don't take care of each other, there will be fire, blood, and anguish -- an anticipation of the war that was to break out two years later.
The family is baffled. Goole seemed to know everything before asking. His manner was a bit impudent. A phone call to the chief of police reveals that there is no Inspector Goole on the force and the relieved family convince themselves that it was all a hoax and now they can resume their usual personae and treat those of lesser status with the usual disdain. Except for daughter Shiela and guilty son Eric, who accept their responsibilities in the chain of events that led to the death of an attractive and highly principled young lady of no particular means. Then there's another call --
This is pretty well acted. Bernard Hempton as the inspector is the epitome of cool. He never smiles or rambles on but he's perceptive and controls his environment. Perhaps the best performance -- because it's just plan outrageous -- is that of Nigel Davenport as the cigar-smoking elderly father who dominates the family. The contempt in his tone when he speak about the working classes is superlative.
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