6 November 2004 | bob998
Schlesinger's finest film
This was a step forward for Schlesinger. After the grim working class stories--A Kind of Loving, with Alan Bates and June Ritchie miserable over an unwanted pregnancy; Billy Liar with Tom Courtenay constantly fantasizing as a way of coping with his dull life--we got Darling, a slick bit of commercial film-making with Julie Christie. Then the trip to New York for Midnight Cowboy, a picture so empty, and so honored by the Academy, that I feared he would become just another hack, a la Clive Donner.
Instead we get a character study, one of the best films of the last three decades. Daniel Hirsch is drowning in respectability; a Jewish doctor who can't muster the courage to come out because the congregation wouldn't understand, so resigns himself to matchmaking attempts by his mother. Alex Greville works with high level job candidates, whom she can sleep with to chase the boredom away. She wants a husband, but her mother advises her to accept that half a loaf is better than none. Bob Elkin is the love object for both; a handsome and really shallow young man who thinks about his future a lot, and realizes that it doesn't involve either Alex or Daniel.
So many wonderful scenes: Bob and Alex visit friends for the weekend. Bob raids the fridge, finds some milk. Alex tells him it's mother's milk--phwoah! Daniel has a party; a woman starts yelling at her husband about the au pair girl he's been sleeping with. Bob wants to leave; his aesthetic sense is offended by this unseemly display of emotion. Daniel wants him to stay, to provide moral support, but Bob is just too selfish to listen. There is always the feeling that disaster is just around the corner, that the triangle will soon collapse.
Glenda Jackson and Peter Finch are just about perfect as the adults in this situation, and Murray Head, if he doesn't show any great acting ability, at least makes us believe in his desirability. He went on to perform roughly the same role as Annie Girardot's lover in La Mandarine.