10 August 2015 | blanche-2
I liked it
I guess a lot of people didn't like this movie. It's a standard Victorian story and follows along those lines.
It's 1901. Emily (Lydia Seton) is a young woman with the position of temporary secretary to Lady Maria Byrne (Joanna Lumley). At the urging of her nephew, Lord James Walderhurst (Linus Roache), Emily changes place cards at a dinner, which is held to introduce suitable women to him.
He doesn't like any of them and can't stand the thought of sitting next to one of them. Because of this, Emily is not hired for the permanent secretarial position she wanted.
Lord Walderhurst walks her home and proposes a marriage of convenience. He is a widower and he has to produce an heir, or the family fortune goes to a ne'er do well cousin, Alec (James D'Arcy).
Emily agrees to marry him, and she invites her former roommate Jane (Sarah Ridgeway) to live there as her maid. James has always cared for Emily; now Emily develops feelings for him.
When he has to join his regiment in India for a while, Alec and his part-Indian wife (Hasina Haque) bring Emily a letter in which James has asked them to take care of her. They move in.
There are some stupid things here. The first one is that Emily knows that James can't stand this guy, even if Emily thinks they're a nice couple. And she does realize soon enough that he didn't write that letter, but she doesn't throw them out. They are in debt and people are chasing them, they explain.
The second thing Emily does is tell Alec that she can't swim. Bad.
Then Emily becomes pregnant. At first she hides it, but after nearly fainting, she tells them that she is. Now we're talking death knell for Alec inheriting.
When Alec becomes ill (maybe, maybe not) his wife brings in an Indian nurse, Ameerah, who starts giving Emily tonics. Like anyone would drink those things. When Alec gets well, he seduces Jane. Great, now Emily is all alone, and now -- NOW she realizes she's in danger.
I still liked this because it had an element of suspense, the woman in danger thing one has in these stories. I also agree that she couldn't be more stupid. As the article "The Making of a Lady is Preposterous and Proud of It" says, everyone does these things with a straight face.
I never realized Linus Roache was British until this. I think he's a good actor, showing us that this is a gentle, good man, who wants his wife to be happy. James D'Arcy is both sweet and menacing when he needs to be. Lydia Seton is very low key and quite good, keeping the style of the period.
Beautifully photographed, this can be a laughfest with its absurd situations and racist views toward Indians, but it does have an element of interest, in part due to the fine acting.