Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.
United Kingdom/Germany, 2001. Film Council, FilmFour, Industry Entertainment, Pipedream Pictures, Senator Film Produktion. Screenplay by John McKay. Cinematography by Henry Braham. Produced by Lee Thomas. Music by Kevin Sargent. Production Design by Amanda McArthur. Costume Design by Jill Taylor. Film Editing by Anne Sopel.
This enjoyable British romance has so much going for it and then totally lets you down by the end. Andie MacDowell is excellent as an American living in Britain as a school headmistress whose weekly ritual with her two best friends (Imelda Staunton and Anna Chancellor) is to get together and discuss their awful experiences with men; whoever comes up with the saddest story wins a box of caramels for their troubles. MacDowell ends up ruining her chances of ever winning the candies again when she has a sexual fling with a twenty-something organist (Kenny Doughty) that ends up turning into true romance. Out of concern for their friend who is in this unorthodox relationship that has to end up in disaster, Staunton and Chancellor do everything possible to stop the affair until they end up going a step too far. Great characters are brought to life by great actors here, and the British countryside hasn’t looked this beautiful on film in years, but the story has a tragic twist in its last third that is totally out of place and feels like a cop-out. Besides, no one in the film ever stops to wonder why it is that a woman can’t fall in love with a younger man and not be judged for it. The rampant sexism of the story would probably be more obvious if the performers weren’t doing such a good job of making it look real.