strange_complex: (Christ Church Mercury)
[ profile] rosamicula loves this film so much that when she came to stay with me for [ profile] ms_siobhan's hen weekend, she bought two copies of the Sunday Telegraph, each of which came with a free copy of the DVD, so that she could be absolutely sure that she got at least one working copy. Since, as it turned out, both of them were fully functional, she gave one to me.

And I can see both why she loves it, and why she was so sure that I would too. With its hazy, perpetual summertime, resonant with weeping willows, cricket bats, embroidered waistcoats and beautiful young men, it's a close cousin to Brideshead Revisited and Maurice. But like both of those, the summer light is really there to throw the darker side of upper-class English life in the 1930s into sharp contrast, in a way that also reminded me strongly of If.... Making it, of course, all the more beautiful for its insubstantial fleeting fragility.

The cinematography is gorgeous, the dialogue rich and complex without becoming mannered, and the acting superb throughout. But I did find myself a bit unconvinced about the 'bookends' of the film, in which we see the main character, Guy Bennett (who was based on the Cambridge spy, Guy Burgess) looking back at his Eton school-days from exile in 1980s communist Russia. Not only did Rupert Everett make a deeply unconvincing 70-year-old, but the link between his school-day experiences and his later espionage was only explored in the most simplistic of terms, so that the relationship between the central story of the film and its framing scenes felt tenuous at best.

Still, if you basically ignore those bits, it is a beautiful film, and it didn't hurt that it included a great deal of location footage of Oxford, too - even if it was masquerading rather confusingly as Eton, causing me to keep on thinking mistakenly that the characters had suddenly left school after all and gone on to University instead.

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