14 February 2002 | mwriter35
BRILLIANT. QUITE SIMPLY, BRILLIANT.
This movie is perhaps the most compelling--and starkly fascinating--example of a filmmaker's ability to reveal the subtleties of psychology and class, and their combined effect on the an individual's actions. It's also terrifically fun to watch, make no mistake. When Viscount Bucton (Gabriel Byrne) accidentally (or with subconscious intent) kills a woman in a hit and run accident (thinking that it was his wife on an adulterous assignation) his upper-class army friends rally around him to protect one of their own. When Bucton's middle-class friend, Jamie, consumed by guilt, reveals the secret of what really happened that rainy night, he is first brutally ostracized, then framed, then killed. Rarely has the British class structure been so starkly and elegantly stripped of its "Disney" affectations, and shown for what it is. Wonderful performances, also, from Judy Parfitt as Bucton's mother, the Countess of Crune, and Michael Hordern and his father, the Earl of Crune. Bravo to acclaimed social documentarian Nick Broomfield, who turns his unsparing eye to a film that deserves a much wider distribution than it received, and which ought to be acknowledged as a dramatic triumph of Dickensian scope, beautifully and hauntingly photographed, magnificently acted, and powerfully--and tragically-- resonant. This is a profoundly intelligent film that requires a little more sophistication than the average filmgoer possesses, and will likely be a little too complicated for some viewers who might be better served by fluffier, more "Hollywood," fare.