The highlight this week was the start of the Czech season at Melbourne Cinémathèque. I also watched Tom White late last night and am writing a separate review. I actually liked this more than anything else I saw during the week, but I consider Tom White one of the top 10 Australian films of the last decade.
- Ucho (The Ear, Karel Kachyňa, Czechoslovakia, 1970)
- Spalovač mrtvol (The Cremator, Juraj Herz, Czechoslovakia, 1968)
- Lady Chatterley (Pascale Ferran, France, 2006)
- Tom White (Alkinos Tsilimidos, 2004)
Call me a philistine, but I hated D.H. Lawrence at school. From memory we covered both Sons and Lovers and Lady Chatterley's Lover. I found the writing staid and boring, reflecting a repressive social and class-conscious culture that held no appeal to me. I remember an interview I read some time ago with Charlotte Rampling, an English ex-pat living in France (and frequent collaborator with François Ozon), who felt she had to leave England because she finds even the contemporary culture stifling.
It may not be a surprise then, that I'm not a big fan of English period films, for pretty much the same reasons mentioned by Rampling. I generally find them dull, pretentious and overly theatrical. While this film didn't astound me, it was well made (avoiding the above-mentioned pitfalls) and quite frankly, better than any English period piece I've seen.
The cinematography was very good, the characters were much more realistic and there was more subtlety than we're accustomed to with the genre. The fact that it was an English story in French worked fine with me. If you like period films and/or French drama, there's a good chance you'll like this.