2 February 2010 | intelearts
My 313th Review: A good Chaucerian cautionary tale with a very significant debut by one Carey Mulligan
With excellent acting and excellent visuals this is a good film, as a Chaucerian cautionary tale, or a retake on Congreve, it succeeds in buckets. But more even than the excellent script by Nick Hornsby is a marvellous performance by Carey Mulligan.
It tackles what is an incredibly sensitive subject, more so today than even in its setting, the relationship between a teenager and an older man, with definite aplomb. What could have been either an anachronistic script filled with moral sensibilities that didn't surface in 1961 or a cheap and tawdry sensationalist production is handled with verve, humour, and brings both the wonder of first love and the seductive ability of that love to steer lives in directions we'd rather not go out in ways that work very well indeed.
Carey Mulligan has more than a touch of sensibility about her and is, obviously, the more mature, yet still a naive genué - her performance is to be admired for its ability to not switch characters but rather hold a fast course that is totally believable. I seriously cannot think of any debut in the past 20 years that has this weight. Like Taylor in National Velvet or Johnny Mill's daughter in Whistle Down the Wind you just know you are watching something very special indeed.
All the parts are very well written by Nick Hornsby and what we get is both complex and light, a witty drama with depth that truly evokes the post-Suez and Macmillan era; Britain before the Beatles but a Britain full of a generation who didn't wanted to be reminded of rationing and the Blitz, who were searching to get away from the drudgery of a boring job-for-life that was killing their parents by degrees.
While there are moments of real unease, not surprisingly given the subject matter, there is nothing to not recommend about this: it is thoughtful, funny, intriguing, and marks the start of a significant career for Carey Mulligan who will certainly become one of the leading British actresses of her generation.