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Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The Return Of The Soldier (1982)

During WWI, a shell shocked soldier (Alan Bates) loses the last 20 years of his memory and after a brief hospital stay returns home. Three women in his life will help procure a cure: his self centered wife (Julie Christie), his loving cousin (Ann-Margret) and his first love (Glenda Jackson). But the cure may be worse than the amnesia. Based on the novel by Rebecca West, this is a delicate and lovely period piece. Though set in an elegant English country home with exquisite detail to setting and costume, this is mercifully free of that BBC Masterpiece Theater mustiness (where the period detail takes precedence over the narrative) that too often kills off a potentially good film. The director Alan Bridges (THE HIRELING) keeps the focus on the characters and the four principals all bring nuance and specificity to their roles. Jackson, cast against type, brings an appropriate melancholy and gentleness to her country wife while Christie nicely brings an almost comical mean spiritedness to her spoiled aristocrat. The psychology put forth may be a bit creaky but it's a nicely etched study. The discreet score is by Richard Rodney Bennett. With Ian Holm, Frank Finlay and Jeremy Kemp.

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