movieThemes: Alan Rickman
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AN AWFULLY BIG ADVENTURE (1995)

Cast: Alan Rickman, Hugh Grant, Georgina Cates, Alun Armstrong, Prunella Scales, Rita Tushington, Alan Cox
Director: Mike Newell
Producers: Victor Glynn, Conor Harrington, Hilary Heath, Philip Heathcliffe
Screenplay: Charles Wood
Cinematography: Dick Pope
Music: Richard Hartley
Approximate Running Time: 113 minutes
Website: http://www.flf.com/advent/index.htm (Unofficial, but thorough)
Rating:

Category: Drama/History

The Plot: 16 year old Stella has her heart set on working in the theater, and joins the crew of a rep theater in Liverpool, UK just after World War II. Stella has lived a sheltered life, having been abandoned by her mother at a young age and raised by her working-class uncle and aunt. But, Stella is the living picture of starry-eyed innocence and determined to work in theater. When she stars summer work at a local rep theater, she immediately falls for the director, Meredith Potter (Hugh Grant), who isn't interested in her. However, her naivety and inquisitive nature only succeeds in attracting latecomer, P.L. O'Hara (Alan Rickman) who is all to willing to 'assist' her in her quest to become more worldly so that Meredith will recognize her. And yet, at the same time, O'Hara feels there is something familiar about Stella...

Comment: This is a dreadful, dreadful, dreadful film... It is supposed to be a black comedy about the triumph of the human spirit over the harsh times faced in Britain at the end of WWII, where poverty and loss rule everyone. Yet, the film comes across as bleak, dark drama with not a glimmer of comedy in it - unless one is looking for ironies in the contrasting characters (but that doesn't exactly extract a chuckle when watching the film...). The backdrop is gray, the plot is grayer and the comedy is lost in the mist that hovers above the streets...

The strangest thing is, despite the awful impression this film leaves, all the actors give very good performances - the one redeeming feature of this film. Georgina Cates is disgustingly enviable as the nubile innocent, Stella. She swims from innocence to startling intelligence within the blink of an eye and flutters her way delightfully through this film. Hugh Grant is obnoxious (as his character demands) as Meredith Potter - and mercifully, doesn't stutter and bumble. Prunella Scales is delightful as the aging vamp who is overcome with envy at the young Stella, and yet unsure as to whether to protect Stella's innocence or see it destroyed by someone like Meredith or O'Hara. Alan Rickman is marvelous as the reckless, aging O'Hara who comes back to save the production, and seduce the strangely familiar, Stella.

I wouldn't recommend this film in a month of Sunday's, but if dreary British Drama's about those dark times after WWII are up your alley, they you will enjoy An Awfully Big Adventure...

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