AN AWFULLY BIG ADVENTURE (1995)
||Alan Rickman, Hugh Grant,
Georgina Cates, Alun Armstrong, Prunella Scales, Rita Tushington,
||Victor Glynn, Conor Harrington,
Hilary Heath, Philip Heathcliffe
|Approximate Running Time:
(Unofficial, but thorough)
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...