13 July 2009

Billy Liar (starring Tom Courtenay)

'Billy Liar' is a fairly is a popular classic film from 1963, which I hadn’t seen before. Possibly I would never have done so, but for a free offer in a Saturday paper, passed on to us by relatives.

Billy (Tom Courtenay) is a young man who dreams of a better life, and has a fantasy world which he escapes to at times. Unfortunately, despite being an adult working as a clerk, he has still not learned to distinguish fact from fantasy. So he makes ups stories not just for his parents but also tells them to his friends and colleagues.

Billy has managed to get engaged to two different young women, due to this bizarre character quirk, and is in big trouble for having forgotten to post a large number of calendars some months previously.

It felt extremely old-fashioned in style, more like a 1950s film. There were a few amusing moments, and it was interesting to see the film that – apparently – was the first one featuring the young Julie Christie. But on the whole I thought it silly rather than humorous, and basically a sad reflection of someone living such a boring life that he has never grown up.

Rather a discouraging ending, too. Not really recommended.

Rated PG in the UK, but not rated at all in the US. Not currently available in America.

Review copyright Sue's DVD Reviews

04 July 2009

The Glass Virgin (starring Emily Mortimer)

I’ve read a few of Catherine Cookson’s historical novels, and haev usually found them a bit too full of gritty reality, sometimes with rather depressing endings. So I wasn’t too sure what to expect of this DVD; it came free in a newspaper and was passed on to me by a relative. I had not read the book so had no idea of the story. It was originally a mini-series on British TV.

The story opens with Annabella, a ten-year-old child of luxurious circumstances in the 1870s, who doesn’t understand that her beloved father is a promiscuous, violent spendthrift. The first part of the film shows her background, and uncovers a few family secrets. Annabella's naive innnocence gets some of the servants into big trouble.

Then the plot leaps forward seven years, and Annabella’s life takes on a very different form. Her father is threatened with bankruptcy, and she finally learns the shocking truth about her past.

I thought the production was extremely well done. I was particularly impressed with the young Annabella, and also with Nigel Havers as her unpleasant (but attractive) father. I would have been happier without one violent boxing scene – I averted my eyes – but other than that, it was, on the whole, an enjoyable film.

Since it was originally a series, the film was quite long at two and a half hours; I was relieved that the ending was much more satisfactory than I had feared.

Rated PG in the UK, although I would personally have thought that a 12 rating would be more appropriate. It does not seem to be available in the USA.

Review copyright Sue's DVD Reviews