Tuesday, 1 May 2018

David at the movies: Guernsey's best exotic war story - and title!


From the producers of the Best Exotic Mari-gold Hotel movies comes another film with a bizarre (and overlong) title. Like the Best Exotic duo, it’s a crowd-pleaser. It pleased me!

The year is 1946. A newly successful author (Lily James) goes to Guernsey after a local farmer writes to her about the island’s weirdly named book club during the years of Nazi occupation. She slowly uncovers a secret wartime tragedy which hangs like a dark cloud over the club’s handful of members.

The story is a slight and sentimental one. Despite war and death, this is another feel-good movie, much like Finding Your Feet a few months back and with a similar ‘ensemble’ cast. Lily James just may be the new Julie Andrews, always a joy to see. Michiel Huisman, who plays the farmer, is a new name to me (I haven’t watched Game of Thrones), but he contributes a handsome central presence that reminded me of Alan Bates’s Farmer Gabriel in the 1967 Far from the Madding Crowd. Tom Courtenay is solid as always. Penelope Wilton is outstanding as the widow drowning in the grief of two world wars.

Slight and sentimental, yes, but very involving. I so wanted this movie to have a happy-ever-after Mills & Boon-style ending. Does it? Go and find out.


I tend now to avoid gut-churning horror movies (Saw and its siblings), but I’ve loved a good scary story since the Hammer Draculas and Frankensteins 
came out when I was a teenager. And I guess some of the scariest flicks have been the Alien series (though the latest additions have been a lot more earnest and a bit less scary).

A Quiet Place comes with CGI aliens that look like hideous clones of Sigourney Weaver’s intergalactic chums. There are stronger echoes of War of the Worlds. Eighteen months after an invasion by people-chomping monsters, we join a family of survivors living in rural America, Emily Blunt and her real-life husband John Krasinski (who also directs) and their three kids. The aliens are blind but super-sensitive to sound, so the family learns to live as silently as possible, talking in sign-language and whispers. The perils of noise are brought vividly home from time to time: a battery-operated toy or a dropped plate brings terrible retribution. Emily is pregnant, so you wonder how she is going to give birth in silence and produce a noiseless infant. These questions are answered in nerve-shredding scenes in the second half of the film.

Normally, when someone’s phone goes off in a cinema, you make noises of disapproval and long to belt them. When this happened yesterday I almost hit the deck!

A Quiet Place has the rustic unease of several of M. Night Shyamalan’s movies. You think the countryside is safer than the city? Think again.

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