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Simon Read [Film Festival 06.22.11] movie review news comedy drama

Year: 2010
Directors: Niall MacCormick
Writers: Tamzin Rafn
IMDB: link
Trailer: link
Review by: projectcyclops
Rating: 7 out of 10

A British comedy starring Sebastian Koch (The Lives of Others), Felicity Jones (The Tempest) and Jessica Brown Findlay (Downton Abbey) sees the great granddaughter of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle working as a cleaner at a family run hotel in an English seaside town. Her name is Emilia and she makes such an impression on the family that they invite her for dinner, where her unusual attitude to life and constant confidence and sarcasm have different effects on each family member, themselves a troubled lot.

Of course the father, Jonathon, wants to give her "writing lessons" (yeah, sure) and spend time with her. He's a once successful writer who had a hit with his book The Cliff House, which brings-up in conversation at least ten times a day, to which his wife will point out that his follow-up, Mental Interiors, was a huge flop. Emilia sees right through him, but finds time to mess him around and flirt anyway. Beth, the daughter of the family is heading to Oxford Uni, but wants to rebel just a little before she starts a life of student bookwormship. She and Emilia become close, but the plot has a few tumbles in store for them (and there is a scene in which Beth tries smoking grass for the first time, guess whether or not she'll cough a little and hand it back). The mother, played with real zeal by Julia Ormond, hates Emilia right off, and with good cause really, a failed actress herself she sees exactly what this little tramp is up to, or at least thinks she does.

It all adds up to a pretty satisfying little comedy/drama, which reminded me somewhat of 'An Education' but without the backdrop of the swinging 60's. Emilia's character, played well by Findlay, threatens at certain points to become just that little bit too knowing, wise and dare I say it, quirky (she wears mismatched earrings and looks after wise elderly relatives) but she keeps the character just vulnerable enough that we don't lose sight of Emilia's more human, earnest qualities. (Her mother for instance, committed suicide, twice)

It's not a very taxing film, light hearted and fun is the order here, but it's got good performances and direction of very decent quality, there are laughs too brought forth mainly from Jonathon's clumsy attempts at flirtation, and Emilia's pithy one liners and scathing put downs. It's not going to win any Oscars, but it won me over by the end and I have to admit I wasn't confident going in that I'd enjoy it. Do yourself a favour and check this out if you get the chance.

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Anonymous (11 years ago) Reply

"Her mother for instance, committed suicide, twice." That's showing off a bit.

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