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Friday, December 21, 2012

White Mischief (1987)

In 1941 Kenya, a group of jaded and decadent British expatriates indulge in orgies, casual adulterous affairs as well as drugs. But when one of their own (Charles Dance) is found murdered and the husband (Joss Ackland) of the deceased's mistress (Greta Scacchi) is arrested for the murder, even the decadent community is shocked. Based on an actual incident known as the Happy Valley murder case, Michael Radford's (IL POSTINO) film is a wry look at the casual moral rot of a dying colonialist society. There's no one to empathize with, not even the murder victim which distances us from the proceedings so that we're merely observers, nothing more. Visually, the film gets everything right but it's just not a film one can warm to. Scacchi looks terrific but her character is too ambiguous to make much sense of while Ackland and Dance aren't interesting enough to make us care. Fortunately, the supporting performances pick up the slack, especially Sarah Miles as a drug addled whack job who attends cocktail parties with a snake draped around her and has the film's best lines. Also with Trevor Howard, Geraldine Chaplin, Hugh Grant, John Hurt, Ray McAnally, Murray Head, Jacqueline Pearce and Susan Fleetwood.

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