This movie centers on four pairs - Frances (Dame Emma Thompson) is a recent widow who wants to get away from Scotland to Australia with her teenage son Alex (Gary Hollywood) to escape her memories, arrival of her old mother Elspeth (Phyllida Law) makes her reconsider her decision. Alex approaches his first sexual experience with neighbour girl Nita (Arlene Cockburn). Chloe (Sandra Voe) and Lily (Sheila Reid) are two old women who like to attend strangers' funerals and Tom (Sean Biggerstaff) with Sam (Douglas Murphy) are two schoolboys who skip school to play on the beach and talk.
Beautiful, restrained, realistic drama on the Scottish Coast in winter.
The Winter Guest (1997)
This has the depth and studious pace and multi-pronged construction of a good play. Which it once was. And like many plays turned to cinema, this carries along some first rate dramatic acting, namely by Emma Thompson and her real life mother, Phyllida Law, playing mother and daughter. As a small twist, the playwright, Sharman Macdonald, is mother to someone else we know, actress Keira Knightley.
The scene is a forlorn village in the dead of winter on a Scottish coast. We are shown the first turn of innocent love, a pair of boys playing with the edges of right and wrong, a pair of old woman touching on what death looks like if not felt, and the mother daughter pair who deal with a little of everything. Including photography, which serves as a classic artist's release, a way to take you out of your head and into what is out there in front of you.
Don't expect action, or even any great surprising turn of events. At first I went along with the slow, beautiful pace thinking it was all building to something. And I suppose it was, after all, but nothing that will shock you. It's better than that, and more real, and more touching. The movie and play are both quite good, lacking the finesse and originality of the most amazing works around us, drawing even from Ibsen or Chekhov in the realism and power of very ordinary people in faraway places. The acting is tremendous within the cool dry restraints of the plot, and in fact might make more the the play than is there. If you like a bit of reality without sensation, but just tenderness and meaning, this will work.
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