Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Film: 'The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society'.

I'm not going to pretend - and why should I? I just could not relate to this film. Going further, I found stretches of it even tiresome.

It's set in 1940s Guernsey (the second-largest of the British Channel Islands just off the coast of northern France - present pop. around 60,000). The Channel Islands were the only part of Great Britain to come under Nazi occupation for a briefish period - and this is shown in several flashbacks to that time, complete with hostile reactions of the islands' inhabitants.

The society of the film's title is a subterfuge for a handful of literary enthusiasts (including Tom Courtenay and Penelope Wilton) to meet up for readings and discussion - the 'pie' part reflecting the fact that the occupying Germans removed all farm animals for their own use, leaving the natives to subsist practically solely on potatoes - though a single errant pig which survived the stealing provides a rare treat for the group. (I'll quickly gloss over that episode!)

The film's main character is played by Lily James as a writer who visits the island after just after the war, having got intrigued by this society and she decides to write a book on their war experiences, coming up against obstacles - most unpleasantly from the woman owning the room where she's staying - as well as reservations from members of the group who feel that she's opening whole cans of worms when she discovers an affair between one of the islanders and a German officer, and their resulting child. Simultaneously she herself is being caught up in a romantic entanglement with an American (Glen Powell) which is, one might say, not going ideally. And - but of course! - there's another young man (the Dutch Michiel Huisman), a pig (mainly) farmer who fancies her - and he's not alone (pace Matthew Goode). 
It's all very 'bitty' with many flashes back and forwards which was getting me lost and exhausted. But despite all these strands going here and there I found the whole thing verging on plain dull!

Director is the well-established Mike Newell, still probably best known (and rightfully so) for 'Four Weddings....etc' (1994) though I found little of that film's magic here.

Incidentally the scenery shots in this film are utterly marvellous. Pity, then, that filming was not done on the titular island itself but on the mainland - Cornwall and Devon!

I've seen and heard some good reviews of this film, though vastly enthusiastic ones I've yet to see. I think for me it might have gone down better with a glass or two of wine. However, since I'm now and have been teetotal for over a year that wasn't poss. Still, I'll be generous and won't score it below average. Do take a..........5.





16 comments:

  1. Well the first 20 minutes feeling that I had obviously went on for you throughout the entire film! It takes all sorts. Maybe my mood, slightly low at the moment, made me vulnerable to the film and all my tears at the end! I knew that it was filmed in Devon/Cornwall but then there is nothing unusual in this; many films are made in a different location to where they purport to be.

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    1. It does indeed take all sorts, Rachel - and I freely admit that I'm not the sort this film was aimed at. That, of course, doesn't in any way validate my partly harsh-ish view of a film which. it's clear, everyone involved tried hard to make a good entertainment. I'm only sorry I couldn't share the experience of such as yourself - though I'd have to have had super-human powers to conjure up tears for anything in this. Maybe my shell is too hard and needs dissolving.
      Yes, it's not surprising to the likes of us that many films are not shot in the places they purport to be. I wonder why they didn't in this case, though. Perhaps the logistics of getting the equipment over there as well as the communications matter - so much easier when you're on the mainland.
      Thanks for your honest reaction here and for your thoughts on your own blog.

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  2. Perhaps Rachel and I were in the frame of mind that we needed to enjoy the film

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    1. Perhaps, JayGee, perhaps. But the important thing is that both of you liked it and I won't and don't want to take anything away from that.

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  3. Goode's character was gay btw

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    1. Oh, I missed that. It explains something which now makes more sense.

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  4. I read this book probably 10 years ago, something like that. A very thin book. I will have to look it out so I can read it and then watch it. But I already know from the trailer that no one looks how they did in my head. Maybe I shouldnt see it for that reason.

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    1. It's always a danger, Sol, and they are NEVER as 'good' on screen as in our imaginations. It all depends, I suppose, on how much you are prepared to give up on your prior conceptions or, in other words, how much you liked the book.

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  5. I have never heard of the film, but could the title of it be any longer?

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    1. I can only surmise that the purposely inflated title (also that of the book) is to get it noticed, M.M. - and it's worked.

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  6. Tony and I went to see this... If it had been on TV we would have switched it off. We were bored stiff. Thankfully we had a two for one deal and so it wasn't full price. I consider £9.50 a ridiculous amount of money to pay to go to the pictures.

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    1. Yes, it's a lot to fork out on what turns into a disappointment, Cherie.
      One of the few merits of being my age is that I can see a lot of films at just £3 - £4 - only at certain matinees, of course, but since I've long since retired that's no problem. I'd have been livid if I'd had to pay nearly 10 quid for a film like this, though when it's something I desperately want to see I do have to chance that sort of price, which doesn't always work out.

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    2. It would have been close on £20 as there were two of us.

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    3. Yes, I know. I always have to go alone as I've got no friends. (Sob sob!) ;-)

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    4. If you lived near me I would go with you. x

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  7. Now no one has said THAT before - and thank you. As I've set my heart on moving (back) to Oxford - though there's no way I can currently afford it - it will be just a tiny bit closer though, of course, nowhere near enough to take up your kind offer. Ta anyway!

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