DIRECTOR:                     MIKE LEIGH
COUNTRY:                     ENGLAND 1993
MUSIC:                           ANDREW DICKSON
WRITTEN BY:                MIKE LEIGH
CAST:                             David Thewlis (Johnny), Lesley Sharp (Louise), Katrina Cartlidge (Sophie), Claire Skinner (Sondra), Gina McKee (Cafe Girl), Deborah MacLaren, Greg Crutlewell, Peter Wight.
SUPER FEATURES:      Acting at its best, and deepest.

Acting, whether on film or on a stage can be two things: One, a style is offered, and everyone has to follow it this way or that. An actor camps
it up, or one does it such and such. This is idealistic acting at best since it has no basis in any reality except an idea. Two, is a school of work that started with Stanislavsky and still lives today in different forms, the more advanced ones being the likes of Grotowski, and the Living Theatre. This work depends on the actor's ability to push their experience levels to the deepest parts of themselves, to define acting moments with more strength and inner direction. The inevitable "you got to feel it" type of work. One should say that there is no style here, beyond the last vestiges of any culture.

This film, however unpleasant and brutal it might be, is about these depths that acting can take a character. And the story is loosely centered around the ability of these actors to move around and inter relate between each other. The director throws a few monkey wrenches here and there and we see the characters take their brow beatings.

As an intense piece of characterization, this film is not for everyone. It is boring, if one likes action. But if you could mix action with this, you would have a movie that would keep you awake up at nights. But as an acting exercise, with a solid sense of direction, although not one for an audience, it is an absolutely RIVETING, and exciting piece that is unpredictable, lively, never fake, and very intense. Excellent theatre, if you will.

In the process, the characters find themselves stripped of any conventions and have to find their own inner motivations for responding, be it "stay with it" or "quit" and move on. Johnny seems to move on when it is time to discuss any thinking, something he is starting to enjoy (with men only), but ready to quit when it comes to women.

There is a sense of vulnerability in all the characters, who are rather insecure at these levels, but all in all, the women seem to survive these things a bit better, though we would like to think that these exercises would not affect us. THEY DO. And they change one's ability to work into another level.

Loosely, the story centers around Johnny, who has moved from the inner parts of England to the metropolitan life that is London. And while survival for him is a matter of movement, for everyone else it has become a matter of comfort and ease, if almost all of the women are the hint. And one comes to love him, but not satisfy him. The first one used to be his girlfriend. And in one instance he tries to pick up a cafe girl, who stands her ground despite her obvious weakness.

A very talky film, with excellent rushes, nevertheless it leaves many of us feeling unfulfilled. It is a beautiful premise for a director to work with reminiscent of the work of Peter Brook, who has done this a step further by mixing actors from various cultural backgrounds to put together the MAHABHARATTA, also an astounding piece of acting.

This film is for you if you appreciate the art of acting.





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