|Index||3 reviews in total|
Daisy (Penelope Wilton), a middle-aged writer in the throes of a
painful marriage break-up, retreats to a northern England canal-side
cottage to lick her wounds and get some work done. She is buttonholed
by Henry (Michael Keating), a rather odd character living in a nearby
barge, who persuades her to takes him on as a gardener/maintenance man,
despite the suspicions of her agent. Henry moves to take advantage of
his situation and soon Daisy, despite her misgivings, finds herself
becoming emotionally attached to him.
The story is based on a real-life experience of the novelist Elizabeth Jane Howard, who amongst other works produced the Cazalet novels. It all rings true emotionally; Daisy, suffering writer's block as well as an unfaithful husband is an easy mark for someone like Henry. Henry, though he does have "form", is no diabolic monster; he is a fantasist from a working class background unable to fit in anywhere in the English class system except as an unsuitable lover.
Michael Keating is a perfect Henry; his anxious charm hiding his manipulations. Perhaps the suspense is a little less because it is hard to see him as a black-hearted villain, and indeed he is not he is more the naughty boy who never grew up. Penelope Wilton conveys Daisy's emotional vulnerability beautifully.
Like real life, the ending is mundane, but the charm of this piece is in the way it is done. A fair amount of flashback is used to explain how Henry got the way he is, and it often seems more vivid than the present. It was very brave of Elizabeth Jane Howard to expose to the world what does seem to have been a considerable error of judgment on her part, but in seeking to explain Henry she has written an absorbing story. Here, the film-makers seem to have done a fine job of adaptation. A very superior TV movie.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is a disturbing story, that in the hands of a less skilled
director and cast may have ended up looking like an American TV movie
of the week (banal and predictable). Penelope Wilton and Michael
Kitchen deliver beautifully nuanced performances and the story is such
that the outcome isn't what we've been conditioned to think it will be.
As Daisy is falling for Henry and one is listening to Henry's inner
dialogs, it's difficult not to agree aloud with the warnings of her
friends, and hard to imagine that someone of Daisy's intelligence can't
see through his facade. One is forced to separate what Daisy sees with
what the audience hears - clever that. Thankfully, Penelope Wilton and
Michael Kitchen are both actors of impressive depth and and subtlety
and their motivations are easy (if not easily internalized to our own
experiences) to understand.
What I enjoyed the most about this movie is that the apparent emotional frailty that Daisy embodies is turned around in a satisfying way when she discovers the truth about Henry's manipulations and faces off with him, forcing him to give the ground. Huzzah Daisy (and well done Penelope Wilton)! The violence and need for control underlying Henry's character is most disturbing and should be what viewers remember about Michael Kitchen's clever, insightful portrayal of Henry. Remember - with a view to learning from and being conscious of. Although we've seen Henry's memories and ought to be prepared for physical violence, Daisy's shock and sense of betrayal is touchingly rendered in her response. Her ability to take charge and "rise above" when the viewer expects her to meekly submit or run off is the crowning moment of this film and why I would rate it an eight out of ten.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
What a brilliant actor Michael Kitchen is. It's annoying to talk about his work & have people say "Who?" Reminds me of when The Who were getting popular & kids would say "Who are coming to town?" to get someone to say "Who?" Anyway, Kitchen is the greatest British actor since D. Day-Lewis. They are truly in the same league. Kitchen & Penelope Wilton work so fantastically well together, you'd think they'd really had an affair. Am sure they have not, just talented actors. Remember Olivier's advice to Brando "Trying Acting, Young Man!" Having seen all the "Foyle's" available in the US,"Out of Africa," & OO7s-- friends & I longed for more w/Kitchen. Went to library & requested that they buy "Falling." Elizabeth Jane Howard's horrific experience became a fascinating book and this series. I'm hyper, often watch movies with 'pause' button off & on throughout-but couldn't stop watching intelligent Penelope & wicked Michael. Really, every woman needs to know about men like this. I experienced what Ms. Howard wrote about & what women in this film suffered. Survived, thank Heavens. Strange mix of passion, mystery & menace. A stunning work. Dixie in Colorado
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