Dark side of de­sire

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - Movies - VICKY ROACH Now show­ing State Cinema

THIS hand­some Bri­tish pe­riod drama, star­ring Rachel Weisz as a woman on the edge of a ner­vous break­down, is not to be con­fused with the 1999 Renny Har­lin crea­ture fea­ture of the same name, in which a group of sci­en­tists be­come bait for the su­per- sharks they have en­gi­neered.

But it does pump sig­nif­i­cantly more blood than your av­er­age Ter­ence Davies movie.

The English di­rec­tor is best known for beau­ti­fully com­posed, slightly nos­tal­gic of­fer­ings such as Dis­tant Voices, Still Lives, the sec­ond film in his au­to­bi­o­graph­i­cal tril­ogy.

But his lat­est work, an adap­ta­tion of the Ter­ence Rat­ti­gan play about a woman who leaves her aris­to­cratic hus­band for an af­fair with dash­ing World War II pi­lot Fred­die, ex­plores the po­ten­tially self- de­struc­tive na­ture of de­sire.

A 1955 film ver­sion starred Vivien Leigh and Ken­neth Moore in the lead roles. Weisz’s Hester Col­lyer – min­is­ter’s daugh­ter, judge’s wife – is pow­er­less in the face of her phys­i­cal ob­ses­sion for her in­creas­ingly dis­tant lover.

In the open­ing se­quence she writes him a note be­fore ly­ing down in front of an open gas vent. So ab­ject is her plight, Hester can’t even get sui­cide right. A neigh­bour smells gas and alerts the land­lady, whose brusque man­ner con­ceals a heart of gold.

When Fred­die ( Tom Hid­dle­ston) comes home and re­alises what Hester has tried to do, he is fu­ri­ous.

Through flash­backs, Davies re­veals what has brought his tragic pro­tag­o­nist to this point: her brave or fool­hardy decision to leave her fa­ther­fig­ure hus­band, a kindly but cere­bral and rather spine­less crea­ture, for a man with no money and lit­tle sense of com­mit­ment.

How much of Fred­die’s be­hav­iour can be at­trib­uted to his ex­pe­ri­ences as a war pi­lot and how much is sim­ply in­nate is a moot point.

The di­rec­tor’s re­straint leaves room for us to re­flect on Hester’s choices. Weisz, too, holds back in all the right places. It’s a multi- lay­ered per­for­mance that stays re­mark­ably faith­ful to the era in which it is set.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.