is a 1985
-Events:* 3 December - Roger Moore steps down from the role of James Bond after twelve years and seven films. He is replaced by Timothy Dalton.* The Academy Award for Best Picture was won by Out Of Africa, while the highest grossing film was Back to the Future.* Bliss wins AFI Award for best Movie...
Great Britain or Britain is an island situated to the northwest of Continental Europe. It is the ninth largest island in the world, and the largest European island, as well as the largest of the British Isles...
A drama film is a film genre that depends mostly on in-depth development of realistic characters dealing with emotional themes. Dramatic themes such as alcoholism, drug addiction, infidelity, moral dilemmas, racial prejudice, religious intolerance, poverty, class divisions, violence against women...
written and directed by playwright David Hare
Sir David Hare is an English playwright and theatre and film director.-Early life:Hare was born in St Leonards-on-Sea, Hastings, East Sussex, the son of Agnes and Clifford Hare, a sailor. He was educated at Lancing, an independent school in West Sussex, and at Jesus College, Cambridge...
Set in the town of Wetherby
Wetherby is a market town and civil parish within the metropolitan borough of the City of Leeds, in West Yorkshire, England. It stands on the River Wharfe, and has been for centuries a crossing place and staging post on the Great North Road, being mid-way between London and Edinburgh...
in West Yorkshire
West Yorkshire is a metropolitan county within the Yorkshire and the Humber region of England with a population of 2.2 million. West Yorkshire came into existence as a metropolitan county in 1974 after the passage of the Local Government Act 1972....
, the film focuses on Jean Travers, a middle-aged spinster schoolteacher. One evening, she invites married friends for a dinner party, only to have some terrible repressions and past traumas dredged up when guest John Morgan expresses his emotional pain. The strange young man arrives at Jean's cottage the next morning with a gift of pheasants. While sitting at the kitchen table waiting for tea, he puts the barrel of a gun in his mouth and kills himself.
From this point onward, the film's story is told in chronologically discrete, interlocking flashback
Flashback is an interjected scene that takes the narrative back in time from the current point the story has reached. Flashbacks are often used to recount events that happened before the story’s primary sequence of events or to fill in crucial backstory...
s to the recent and distant past, showing actions and events as seen and experienced from various points of view. The central mystery of Morgan's suicide is the fulcrum around which the narrative turns. The narrative construction of the film resembles a jigsaw puzzle
A jigsaw puzzle is a tiling puzzle that requires the assembly of numerous small, often oddly shaped, interlocking and tessellating pieces.Each piece usually has a small part of a picture on it; when complete, a jigsaw puzzle produces a complete picture...
and, in keeping with Hare's style of exposition, frequently appears to have key pieces missing.
There are further scenes of the dinner party as well as scenes of the police investigation into the suicide. We learn Morgan had not been an invited guest — he walked in with others who assumed he was an acquaintance of Jean's, and Jean assumed that her friends had brought him with them.
An aloof and peculiar young woman named Karen Creasy — a former classmate of Morgan's — is delivered from the funeral to Jean's doorstep by Mike Langdon, one of the policemen conducting the inquest. For several weeks after, the girl insinuates herself into Jean's life and home and shows no intention of leaving. Sullen, self-centered, and seemingly devoid of motivation, Karen is curiously unmoved by John's death and is even hostile to his memory. It is later explained that Morgan had developed an obsession with Karen when they were both students at the University of Essex
The University of Essex is a British campus university whose original and largest campus is near the town of Colchester, England. Established in 1963 and receiving its Royal Charter in 1965...
, and she had harshly rebuffed his attempts to initiate a relationship with her. It is implied this rejection may have been the precipitating factor in his decision to leave Essex for Yorkshire with the intention of committing suicide.
When Jean suggests to Karen she may have been responsible for John's decision to kill himself, the young woman angrily denies that her behavior was — or is
— in any way provocative. She makes it clear that she resists — and resents — having any kind of emotional involvement with people, including Jean, and promptly leaves Wetherby for good.
In addition to the events occurring in the present day, there are flashbacks of Jean and her lifelong friend, Marcia, as teenagers in 1953. These scenes reveal Jean had been engaged to airman, Jim Mortimer, and that she failed to stop him from going away on active service in southeast Asia. In a cruel twist of fate, Jim was senselessly murdered in a gambling den during the anti-imperial uprisings in British Malaya
British Malaya loosely described a set of states on the Malay Peninsula and the Island of Singapore that were brought under British control between the 18th and the 20th centuries...
As these episodes from the past and present criss-cross and overlap, Jean begins to understand the dull resentment and lonely despair that drove Morgan to take his life. She also seems to gain some insight into the restlessness and self-destructive impulses of the younger generation. In a related incident, she tries to get one of her female students to see the value of continuing her education. At the end of the film, Jean is told that the girl has dropped out of the sixth form
In the education systems of England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, and of Commonwealth West Indian countries such as Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, Belize, Jamaica and Malta, the sixth form is the final two years of secondary education, where students, usually sixteen to eighteen years of age,...
to run away to London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...
, presumably with a boyfriend.
Jean is likewise affected by the diminished hopes of her contemporaries, who deplore the state of the country under Thatcherism
Thatcherism describes the conviction politics, economic and social policy, and political style of the British Conservative politician Margaret Thatcher, who was leader of her party from 1975 to 1990...
. She regularly discusses these current matters with Stanley Pilborough, Marcia's husband and the town solicitor, who is often purposefully drunk. She observes the unhappy marriages of her middle-aged friends, particularly the endless bickering that goes on between Roger and Verity Braithwaite. Even lonely, despondent Mike Langdon confesses the failure of his relationship with his mistress, Chrissie, who eventually leaves him to return to her sheep farmer husband.
In the end, it seems that Jean no longer needs to mourn for the life she might have had — and the person she might have become — had she not allowed her fiancé to make his fatal departure for Malaya three decades earlier. She will make the best of what she has — and what is — in the here and now.
- Vanessa Redgrave
Vanessa Redgrave, CBE is an English actress of stage, screen and television, as well as a political activist.She rose to prominence in 1961 playing Rosalind in As You Like It with the Royal Shakespeare Company and has since made more than 35 appearances on London's West End and Broadway, winning...
..... Jean Travers
- Ian Holm
Sir Ian Holm, CBE is an English actor known for his stage work and for many film roles. He received the 1967 Tony Award for Best Featured Actor for his performance as Lenny in The Homecoming and the 1998 Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actor for his performance in the title role of King Lear...
..... Stanley Pilborough
- Judi Dench
Dame Judith Olivia "Judi" Dench, CH, DBE, FRSA is an English film, stage and television actress.Dench made her professional debut in 1957 with the Old Vic Company. Over the following few years she played in several of William Shakespeare's plays in such roles as Ophelia in Hamlet, Juliet in Romeo...
..... Marcia Pilborough
- Tim McInnerny
Tim McInnerny is an English actor. He is known for his role as Percy in Blackadder and Blackadder II, and as Captain Darling in Blackadder Goes Forth...
..... John Morgan
- Stuart Wilson ..... Mike Langdon
- Suzanna Hamilton
Suzanna Hamilton is an English actress. She is most famous for her performance as Julia in the modern film adaptation of George Orwell's classic novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four.-Early career:...
..... Karen Creasy
- Tom Wilkinson
Thomas Geoffrey "Tom" Wilkinson, OBE is a British actor. He has twice been nominated for an Academy Award for his roles in In the Bedroom and Michael Clayton...
..... Roger Braithwaite
- Marjorie Yates ..... Verity Braithwaite
- Joely Richardson
Joely Kim Richardson is an English actress, most known recently for her role as Queen Catherine Parr in the Showtime television show The Tudors and Julia McNamara in the television drama Nip/Tuck...
..... Young Jean
- Katy Behean ..... Young Marcia
- Robert Hines ..... Jim Mortimer
has an overall approval rating of 80% on Rotten Tomatoes
Rotten Tomatoes is a website devoted to reviews, information, and news of films—widely known as a film review aggregator. Its name derives from the cliché of audiences throwing tomatoes and other vegetables at a poor stage performance...
In her review in the New York Times
, Janet Maslin
Janet Maslin is an American journalist, best known as a film and literary critic for The New York Times. She served as the Times film critic from 1977–1999.- Biography :...
observed the film was written "with a playwright's ear for elegant dialogue and a playwright's portentous sense of symmetry. While the former is certainly welcome on the screen, the latter is less at home, and it serves to make Wetherby
a peculiar hybrid not entirely suited to either medium . . . the film's momentum varies unpredictably, with a rhythm that is sometimes abrupt, sometimes languid. Equally uneven is the acuteness of the dialogue, with passages that are particularly pointed interspersed with those whose bearing is at best indirect . . . However, Mr. Hare has assembled a superb cast, and its ensemble work is very fine . . . Miss Redgrave's warm, credible performance is very much the heart of the film. She brings to the character a crisp intelligence and a very deep compassion, while still managing to make every movement a surprise."
Roger Joseph Ebert is an American film critic and screenwriter. He is the first film critic to win a Pulitzer Prize for Criticism.Ebert is known for his film review column and for the television programs Sneak Previews, At the Movies with Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert, and Siskel and Ebert and The...
of the Chicago Sun-Times
The Chicago Sun-Times is an American daily newspaper published in Chicago, Illinois. It is the flagship paper of the Sun-Times Media Group.-History:The Chicago Sun-Times is the oldest continuously published daily newspaper in the city...
called it "a haunting film, because it dares to suggest that the death of the stranger is important to everyone it touches - because it forces them to decide how alive they really are."
Time Out London
notes, "Redgrave's performance is superb and she's ably supported by Holm, Dench, and Hamilton in particular."
Awards and nominations
- Berlin International Film Festival
The 35th annual Berlin International Film Festival was held from February 15 to February 26, 1985.-Jury:* Jean Marais * Max von Sydow* Alberto Sordi* Regimantas Adomaitis* Sheila Benson* Wolfgang Kohlhaase* Onat Kutlar* Luis Megino...
According to legend, the Golden Bear was a large golden Ursus arctos. Members of the Ursus arctos species can reach masses of . The Grizzly Bear and the Kodiak Bear are North American subspecies of the Brown Bear....
for Best Motion Picture (winner, tie with Die Frau und der Fremde
The Woman and the Stranger is a 1985 East German film directed by Rainer Simon. It is based on Leonhard Frank's novella "Karl und Anna" and tells the story of two friends in a POW camp during World War I. One of them escapes and forms a relationship with the other man's wife. After the war her...
- Berlin International Film Festival C.I.C.A.E. Award (David Hare, winner)
- Berlin International Film Festival Interfilm Award - Honorable Mention (David Hare, winner)
- BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role
Best Actress in a Supporting Role is a British Academy Film award presented annually by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts to recognize an actress who has delivered an outstanding supporting performance in a film...
(Judi Dench, nominee)
- National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Actress
TheNational Society of Film Critics Award for Best Actress is an annual award given by the National Society of Film Critics to honour the best leading actress of the year.-1960s:-1970s:-1980s:-1990s:-2000s:-2010s:...
(Vanessa Redgrave, winner)
- Boston Society of Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actor
(Ian Holm, winner)
- Wetherby at the Internet Movie Database
Internet Movie Database is an online database of information related to movies, television shows, actors, production crew personnel, video games and fictional characters featured in visual entertainment media. It is one of the most popular online entertainment destinations, with over 100 million...