14 June 2007 | alonzoiii-1
One Good Story and Three Bad Ones
Four players of an English football pool find that they have won EASY MONEY. This movie, in four separate stories, explores how the sudden winnings changes their lives.
To a Yank, the premise of this movie (explored, documentary fashion in the first five minutes) is fascinating, as there is nothing equivalent to the football (er...soccer to us on this side of the pond) pool which brings on such large payouts. (The closest thing is the numbers racket, which, um, isn't legal.) As for the stories: The first one, featuring an average middle class British family in a loving marriage, is by far the best, in both plotting, acting, and conveying a unique sense of place. This bit is as good as Passage to Pimilco in conveying a sense of England during the late 40s. (I mean -- it has everything, austerity, taxes, cricket, Scotland Yard, and dreams of a house in Bournemouth.) Also, its always good to see a generally healthy family unit portrayed realistically; it does not happen often in the movies.
The second one, on the other hand, suffers from rampant stereotyping of meek little clerks and their domineering, officious wives. This, too, is a very English feeling story, but, in this case, not in a good way. Unsatisfactory.
The third tale is an attempt at an American style story, in which a beautiful but bad woman convinces the usual gullible male into gaming the pool so she wins the money. Like the ersatz jazz number and bad singing that starts this sequence, nothing about the story or characters here feels true. The girl is very beautiful, but her story is very phony.
The fourth tale is somewhat better, but is a self-conscious class-conscious "comic" tale of a cockney bass player for the local symphony orchestra, and his difficult relationship with the orchestra conductor. Some might like this; I found it a one joke tale stretched out far too long.
In other words, the first 40 minutes of this movie are really very good. The rest stinks.