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Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Wetherby (1985)

At a small dinner party she's giving for some friends, two married couples, an unmarried teacher (Vanessa Redgrave) assumes that the young man (Tim McInnerny) who shows up with one couple (Judi Dench, Ian Holm) is a friend of theirs. They assume he's a friend of the spinster. The next day he shows up at her cottage and as she prepares tea ..... he blows his brains out! Why? And why in her presence? A series of flashbacks in the teacher's past (Redgrave's daughter, Joely Richardson, plays her as a young girl), the young man's past and the night of the dinner party will bring it all into focus. Written and directed by David Hare (THE READER), this is an uneven but often fascinating look at how our basic need for human contact, if denied, can prove destructive whether psychologically or fatally. Hare's dialog is viable and perceptive for the most part though he slips into romance novel prose ("Hold me tight!") on occasion. He also drags Richard Nixon and Margaret Thatcher (both ridiculed or chastised by the characters) into the proceedings which doesn't make sense to me (maybe it went over my head?) and the result is that it makes the film seem slightly dated. Redgrave is, as usual, remarkable. Very few actresses can make lines that read ersatz on paper sound natural when spoken. With Tom Wilkinson, Stuart Wilson (very good), Suzanna Hamilton and Robert Hines.

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