Sunday, 8 May 2011

Review - Glorious 39 (2009 - Dir. Stephen Poliakoff)

A fictional story based on the events before and during World War II, the film is told from the perspective of a young woman, Anne Keyes played by Romola Garai, who was adopted into a politically powerful family when she was a baby. The story revolves around the British Secret Service and the dissenters who voiced their opinions against the current government, who were intent on appeasing Hitler. 

It is a departure for Stephen Poliakoff to direct a thriller but he does an admirable job. There are some tense scenes as the characters try to gaslight Anne by stealing a baby from her. Another standout scene is set in a room filled with the corpses of people's pets that had been put down due to families moving out of London. Creepy stuff indeed. There is a strong sense of paranoia throughout the film as Anne tries to find out who she can trust. Romola Garai was very brave to take on this role. By the end of the film she looks a right state, almost a different woman.

This was my favourite film of last year, so I thought I'd watch it again before reviewing it. It does suffer slightly on the second viewing. Once you know who is doing what and who she can trust it loses some of its impact. The music is also not as effective as the music in Poliakoff's other work. It has a much slower pace than other traditional thrillers but I don't think that this harms the film; it actually adds to the sense of unease and paranoia.

Although the film is fictional, someone actually told Poliakoff that the Secret Service did actually behave as they do in the film. It is especially poignant because if the appeasers had won out, Stephen Poliakoff, as a Jew, would probably not be here making films now.

If you like this you could try:
North by Northwest, Shooting the Past, Perfect Strangers, Joe's Palace, This Happy Breed.

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