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9 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

Docudrama about the people who changed the English law on homosexuality

Author: lfisher0264 from United Kingdom
20 August 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is really excellent, with a great sense of period - and that's not just the clothes and drab interiors, but the attitudes of mind. It has a great cast. Pip Torrens as the civil servant, Charles Dance as John Wolfenden who chaired the committee which investigated prostitution and homosexuality and recommended changes in the law. John Standing has a cameo as old Judge Lord Goddard. Haydn Gwynne is great as the liberal lady committee member. Many of those on the committee started the investigation full of revulsion for homosexuality, but they did their job and interviewed policemen and gay men to find out what went on. It's a quiet version of 12 Angry Men. In the end, of course, they recommended the changes to the law that took effect in the late 1960s - consenting adults could do what they liked in private, with an age of consent of 21. They had to do some horse trading to get that accepted, and b******y remained illegal, though they got the sentence reduced (it had been life imprisonment). Yes, many anti- gay attitudes are expressed, but they are in the context of the time and are necessary to tell the story. Sean Biggerstaff was good as Wolfenden's gay son, but I found his scenes a bit soapy and they went on for too long. The "gay son" was not invented for dramatic reasons, he is based on Wolfendon's real son, who sadly died young of alcohol-related causes. The photographs of the real-life Wolfendon's over the closing credits show that the production got their appearance almost exactly.

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5 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Captivating historical drama

Author: TheLurkingFox
30 December 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

A historical drama about a time that is, unfortunately, not so far behind us. The time when acknowledging that homosexuality was disgusting and an abomination was the required prelude to any conversation about the subject. If conversation there was, because as Jeremy Wolfenden, the gay son of Sir John Wolfenden (chair of the committee) points out nobody talked about it.

It is difficult now to imagine that not 50 years ago, and well into the 60s, homosexuality was one of the biggest taboo in society. Something deemed so distasteful that no polite conversation would even broach the subject. This made for TV drama makes a good job of putting modern viewers back in the 50s zeitgeist - which has to be done before one can start talking about the Wolfenden Report and show what a revolution it was. It is a good drama, only made better by real-life drama: That Sir John's very own son was a "queer" and quite unapologetically so.

I thought it had the right rhythm, and though obviously made on a restricted budget, it has the quality of a BBC film. The actors are good, and the writers and directors have managed to make a good, sound movie about a subject that is often too forgotten: gay life in the 50-60s. It is also quite engaging, which is more than one could hope for a movie about... a committee. The only reproach I would make is that one doesn't see clearly whether 3 years of research/auditions have made any impact on the committee members' views of homosexuality. Not even on Wolfenden himself, which is quite a shame.

In any case, a good movie, definitely "to see" - if you can find it.

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3 out of 19 people found the following review useful:

Too flat to captivate the viewers

Author: Gordon-11 from Earth
22 September 2007

This is the biography of John Wolfenden's personal and professional struggle to reform the British law concerning homosexuality.

As the film is set in the 50's, the views on homosexuality are very conservative. Much of the time is spent on attacking homosexuality as repugnant and revolting. If it was not made by the BBC, one would be inclined to think this film serves as a homophobic attack against homosexuals. The simple plot is told so plainly, and the characters are not engaging enough. The result is that the film is at times too flat, because it lacks the drama to captivate the viewers. I find the personal struggle of John Wolfenden is not so well portrayed. I would have liked more time dedicated to the relationship between him and his gay son. This film recounts the historic moment of the law change, but the film is rather forgettable. It could certainly be improved.

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