All quiet on the nos­tal­gia front

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - FILM REVIEWS - DON­ALD CLARKE

Posh girl­friend: Tamsin Eger­ton

QUEEN AND COUN­TRY Di­rected by John Boor­man. Star­ring Cal­lum Turner, Caleb Landry Jones, Pat Shortt, David Thewlis, Richard E Grant, Tamsin Eger­ton, Sinéad Cu­sack, David Hay­man. 15A cert, gen re­lease, 115 min Largely un­touched by con­tem­po­rary cinema, the dy­ing days of Na­tional Ser­vice in the UK now seem more re­mote than the war that pre­ceded them. For his very agree­able, much-de­layed fol­low-up to Hope and Glory, John Boor­man takes us back to his own time play­ing the Army Game.

Threat of dis­patch to Korea hangs over the young trainees’ heads. We know (though they do not) that, once con­scrip­tion ends, a so­cial revo­lu­tion is about to erupt.

The film be­gins with the most fa­mous se­quence in Hope and Glory – the chil­dren’s whoop­ing de­light when their school is bombed – and then pro­pels us to the hero’s call-up while living idyl­li­cally on an is­land near Shep­per­ton Stu­dios.

Played with great as­sur­ance by Cal­lum Turner, Bill Rohan finds him­self cast into a world of toffs, spivs and od­dballs. Pat Shortt is bet­ter than ever as the skiver who knows ev­ery route to­wards the quiet life. Richard E Grant is bril­liantly ex­as­perat- ed as an of­fi­cer who con­stantly wishes him­self else­where.

When not in­volved in high jinks, Bill for­wards a cu­ri­ous re­la­tion­ship with a posh stu­dent (Tamsin Eger­ton) whose real name he seems un­in­ter­ested in learn­ing.

Queen and Coun­try is loaded with de­li­cious pe­riod de­tail – yes, peo­ple re­ally did buy their first TV to watch the coro­na­tion – and with ru­mi­na­tions on the way Na­tional Ser­vice stole pre­cious mo­ments of youth. But, thanks to a nu­anced per­for­mance by David Thewlis as an un­rea­son­ably harsh sergeant ma­jor, we also get to grips with un­happy truths about how battle trau­mas were cru­elly disregarded in the post-war years.

For all that, Queen and Coun­try re­mains a small­ish film. It show­cases Boor­man’s great hu­man­ity, but (like Hope and Glory, for that mat­ter) it is al­most en­tirely free of the mild de­range­ment that char­ac­terises his best work. We said “al­most”. What on earth are we sup­posed to make of the pos­i­tively barmy per­for­mance by Caleb Landry Jones as Bill’s posh chum? Writhing like a rest­less snake, grap­pling un­easily with the ac­cent, the Amer­i­can’s turn is quite strange enough to have ap­peared in Boor­man’s fa­mously off-the-leash Zar­doz. Take a breath, man. WEST (WESTEN) Di­rected by Chris­tian Sch­wo­chow. Star­ring Jördis Triebel, Alexander Scheer, Tris­tan Gö­bel, Jacky Ido, Anja Antonow­icz, Ste­fan Lam­pa­dius. Club, IFI, Dublin, 104 min Three years af­ter the Rus­sian fa­ther of her son dies dur­ing an aca­demic trip to Moscow, Nelly Senff (Jordis Triebel) de­cides to leave East Ger­many for good. She’s greeted at the bor­der by agents who stripsearch her. Ar­riv­ing in West Ger­many, she and her son Alexej (Tris­tan Gö­bel) are given a shared apart­ment and food stamps. The com­plex is bet­ter equipped to re­ceive refugees than some other Euro­pean coun­tries can man­age three decades later.

But that does not stop Nelly from feel­ing re­sent­ful about the stamps she must col­lect to claim cit­i­zen­ship. One stamp

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ireland

© PressReader. All rights reserved.