REVIEW: A plot with all the life squeezed out of it
Anyway, this at least explains why he was working for MI5, who had sprung him from jail and then blackmailed him to "sow the seeds of confusion at union meetings", presumably by raising irrelevant points of order. The MI5 man, not to be left out of this orgy of revelation, snatches a hurried kiss as he's given the brush-off. Over in California, Prunella Scales is doing much the same with Diamond, the out-of-condition Gladiator who has been helping to deprogramme her daughter.
There is some sound timber here, or at least sound potential, and Jodhi May's performance as the troubled daughter survives best, probably because the plot gives her a plausible reason for looking stunned by what's going on around her, a mercy not extended to the other actors. The scene in which she is forced to order her own breakfast in a diner, for example, was revelatory in exactly the right sort of way, eloquent about her complete dependency but devoid of the preposterous rhetoric that afflicted somany other scenes - "What's good?" she asks helplessly, staring at the menu - and the line carried its ambiguity without effort. The mother's story, too, could have been intriguing, a conventional woman discovering the desire to escape just as she manages to recapture her daughter. Unfortunately, the strangler fig won.
The depiction of character in Cutting Edge's documentary (C4) about three weddings was far more subtle. For example, when someone says: "I've bought a new morning coat for the wedding... the old one was getting a bit worn", a whole way of life is economically conveyed. And how much more do you need to know about Rob, an Ayckbournish businessman, than the priceless explanation of why he had opted for a pay-bar at the reception: "There's nothing worse than trying to make a profit out of your friends, but then again, what we don't want to do is let people abuse our hospitality." I didn't think I was going to enjoy this at all, the matter seemed so predictable and overworked, but I ended up wanting to go on honeymoon with the three couples. Lucy Sandys-Winch had a sharp eye for the wry contrasts of class and taste and a soft spot for the poorest pair, but she managed to avoid sneering at any of them.
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