13 July 2007 | BrentCarleton
Gainsborough at its best.
This is arguably one of Gainsborough's best films ever, and as important in its own way, as "Brief Encounter." Gainsborough is sometimes criticized as a purveyor of "high toned" tosh for shop girls, yet no one did what they excelled in as well.
And "Madonna of the Seven Moons" excels in all departments. If some of its scenes and dialogue seem to beg a Carol Burnett parody, the film nonetheless grabs you from the first moment and doesn't let go till "The End."
Just try looking away!
The story: A convent bred schoolgirl is molested by a peasant, leading to dramatic repercussions in her later married life that impact both her husband and daughter.
And what a slick, juicy cinematic feast it is--with all the trimmings: psychiatry, nervous breakdowns, rebellious teen-age daughters, rhumba bands, dens of iniquity, fashion shows, Stewart Granger in gypsy pancake, male suiters and gigolos seemingly recruited from a "Brideshead Revisited" casting call, and all set against lavish settings from England to Italy (the art direction is A-1).
With such breadth of scope, mood, and tone, one would not be remotely surprised to see both Todd Slaughter and Olivier show up in the same scene, even though they don't.
The religious beginning and closing, with a genuinely touching depiction of Extreme Unction are deeply affecting.
It's also nice to see British stage great Reginald Tate in a rare screen performance.
Sin, redeem and save never had it so good! Highly recommended.