Bill (Sir Anthony Hopkins) is a man who's very bitter about his divorce and losing custody of his son. So, when one of his friends is being sued for divorce by his wife, so that she can ...
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Bill (Sir Anthony Hopkins) is a man who's very bitter about his divorce and losing custody of his son. So, when one of his friends is being sued for divorce by his wife, so that she can enter into a lesbian relationship, Bill decides to help his friend gain custody of his son in any way that they can devise, including using a sleazeball lawyer. But while Bill feels that feminism has robbed him of his family, he begins to be appalled at what he and Roger (Jim Broadbent) have done.Written by
That's a quote from this caustic and funny dissection of sexual politics set in south London, which sadly and unfairly has dropped from view. Sharply directed by Mike Newell whose other credits include 'Four weddings' and the disturbing 'Awfully big adventure', it also boasts a storming script by the writer of 'Dangerous Liasons'. Hopkins is an instinctive actor and that can lead to some scenery chewing but the anger in this film is something you feel he relates to and it's an uncomfortably authentic performance. TGF suffers from a lack of bucks but is very tightly edited and fastly paced. There is not a dull moment. Hopkins plays Bill Hooper, an over-the-hill ad exec whose embittered experiences of a failed relationship and sixties radicalism spurs him into helping an impoverished school teacher he meets at a party gain custody of his son from his lesbian wife in a way that is cruel and underhand but within the law. The custody case which Hooper bank roles is handled by the cynical and obnoxious ex-public school boy Mark Varda, expertly played by Simon Callow. Varda piquantly observes that Hooper is acting out his anger vicariously through the teacher, although he states that in his experience it's usually a women that's the crony, giving an extra ironic slant to the story. Also involved in the case is an old friend of Hooper's called Jane Powell, who once wore a radical feminist tea-shirt saying, 'all men are rapists', but as a barrister she is obliged to defer to the men in court to protect her career. Her fury with Hooper's vindictive interference in her client's case and her icy glaring at him from the bench are some of the film's funniest moments.
Hooper's relationship with his estranged girlfriend turns out to be less bitter, and although they are unable to repair their relationship, an understanding is reached. There are many twists and turns in the teacher's custody case that results in a pyrric victory for both men. When the men decide to part company, the sadness of their involvement yields a great moment from Hopkins as he stares into an empty void filled with a bittersweet truth. The film's only unrealistic scenes involve Hooper's contrived and unlikely affair with a young women which seems a device to contrast the female mores of today and their bemusements with the frustrated and unresolved battles of the older generation. The real reasons for Hooper's failure and his nightmares involving his son are revealed in an unexpected denouement.
This film has a poignant ending of personal estrangement and disillusion but don't let that put you off, it's gripping and thought provoking throughout.
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