Love and scandal are the best sweeteners of tea. —Henry Fielding

23 August 2007

Mercury

Another slightly uneven film from 1971 that was nominated for Best Supporting Actress. This time, the movie is from Britain and was written by Harold Pinter. Today's film is called The Go-Between and is based on the novel of the same name by L.P. Hartley.
The film stars Julie Christie (slightly miscast and with nothing to do) and Alan Bates (as good-looking as I think I've ever seen him), and concerns a young lower-class boy transplanted to an upper class manor for the summer. The boy becomes a letter-carrier between Christie and Bates, who are carrying on a secret affair. The film is full of nostalgia and symbolism and is told from the perspective of the boy after he has reached middle age and can look back on the story with forty-five or fifty years of perspective.
The film's best performance is from Julie Christie's mother in the film, played by Margaret Leighton. It was she who received the film's single nomination from the Academy, and it is a well-deserved nomination and a chilling, rather fabulous performance of great skill.
This is a fairly good film, although as I said, it is slightly uneven. The direction is rather strange. Pinter's dialogue is, of course, distancing and cold, leaving lots of room for interpretation and getting nuanced performances from the actors. But the director shoots almost everything in long shots, an odd choice for a film concerned with nostalgia and memory. The distance works in the dialogue, but the camera's distance gives the film a less immediate feel.
This film was made in 1970, but as I was watching The Go-Between, I kept thinking what James Ivory might have done with this book somewhere around the late eighties or early nineties. He would have focused much more on the class issues of course, and I think the film would have had a richer, subtler quality that The Go-Between rather lacks. Still, it is a good film, and there really is no reason in the world the film hasn't been released on DVD. Perhaps those long shots would have made more sense in widescreen.