18 April 2007 | tedg
The Matron Sleeps
Many stories here. There's the story Agatha wishes for her romantic life, and where she gets her fuel for her writing career. There's the story she is presented with: two husbands, each a selfish adulterer and herself growing into a most unappealing person. There's the stories she writes for her commercial readers, highly successful. And there's the story she writes for herself of her life. That includes this bizarre episode of her "disappearance," investigated as a possible kidnapping or murder. In fact it was an elaborate story desperately begun with no end written.
And then there's this story on the DVD, a confabulation of all these, the gimmick being that they are shuffled creatively. Its the sort of thing I love, that I live for as a consumer of stories.
And its really hard to mess up because you get a lot of value out of simply making the attempt to flatten all these folds into one layer.
But it is messed up here. Its virtually unwatchable. I don't think the reason is any of the usual candidates: the ordinary production values are good. The idea is inspired. I think it is something very simple and small, something that a film school assignment could address and fix. Its the tone of the thing. And how that tone is carried in the editing and to some extent in the score. Some small adjustments there and a few things shuffled about and this could have been a killer project.
Oh well, there is one rather interesting thing if you are a film enthusiast. Anna Massey plays the elder Agatha. Its a strange choice because Anna is thin attractive and poised, here playing a bemused wisdom. The real person was dumpy, sour and dull, full of self-loathing. Anna was one of the redheads in "Peeping Tom," an influential entry in the history of folded narrative. She was also Babs in "Frenzy," whose death triggered one of Hitchcock's most famous shots, "goodbye Babs."
Ted's Evaluation -- 2 of 3: Has some interesting elements.