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Andy De Emmony
1939 is set between present-day London and the idyllic British countryside in the time before the beginning of the Second World War. At a time of uncertainty and high tension, the story revolves around the formidable Keyes family, who are keen to uphold and preserve their very traditional way of life. The eldest sibling Anne is a budding young actress who is in love with Foreign Office official Lawrence, but her seemingly perfect life begins to dramatically unravel when she stumbles across secret recordings of the pro-appeasement movement. While trying to discover the origin of these recordings, dark secrets are revealed which lead to the death of a great friend. As war breaks out Anne discovers the truth and flees to London to try to confirm her suspicions, but she is caught and imprisoned and only then does she finally begin to discover how badly she has been betrayed. Written by
Reviewers simply don't "get" the underlying tension of the film, which probably relies too much on viewers' understanding that many, many aristocrats/Tories were trying to avoid war with Hitler and often sympathized with him. If you don't know that, then you don't grasp the stakes of the film. Few British people would NOT know this, given that their abdicated king Edward and his wife Wallis Simpson openly admired Hitler, and many other high-borns found him quite right to attack democracy in its heart.
Romula Garai, one of the world's finest new actresses, carries the movie with her endless shading of emotions, her eyes opening to the horror that her family really is despite its large, warm embrace of her. And Bill NIghy is absolutely transcendent as her loving father and Tory MP who is supposed to negotiate American aid to Britain and who lets us know he is fiercely anti-war because of the destruction and death it deals. Is he what he seems, though?
I found this one of the few grounded portrayals of the British upper class attitudes pre-war than anything else I've yet seen.
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