The short films were excellent: Mend and Make Do - A Life-Sized Animated Short Film by Bexie Bush, followed by Leading Lady Parts by Jessica Swale. The main feature had me flipping through my Facebook timeline, partly through disinterest in the contrived yet obvious plot line, and partly to distract me from the excessive yelling and foul language. I'll be interested to see what the discussion group thought of the evening.
The story of a long, stormy marriage and a creative collaboration, culminating in the winning of the Nobel Prize for Literature.
The young teacher in 1950s inspired his students with his energy, enthusiasm and ability to quote James Joyce, instilling into them that if you are a writer you have to write. However, as in so many fields, those who can, do, and those who don't quite have what it takes, teach. So it was with Joe and Joan, faultlessly portrayed by Jonathon Pryce and Glenn Close. Joe the egotist, brash and seductive, Joan the quiet, shy, philosophic and gifted writer who could write into gold all the couple's experiences, book after book. Neither character was all good or all bad. Joe wanted Joan to share in the accolade the body of work written in his name had attracted, but without acknowledging her true contribution, whilst Joan had been simmering with bottled up resentment for years, but playing the caring, supportive wife of a genius. The plot was predictable from the beginning; we knew it would end in disaster. A member of the discussion group announced she applauded the way Joan killed Joe!
Before the interval we were wonderfully entertained by two short films, both much more light hearted than The Wife. The first was beautifully animated. An old woman taking tea with a friend and telling her life story although we didn't see either of them and only caught glimpses of a few family photos. Nevertheless the story unfolded the dramas and traumas, the celebrations and humour of a life well lived with great compassion.
The second short film was very funny. Auditions for a leading lady were being held and young actresses came to read for the part. Watching the proceedings was excruciating as the objections raised against each contender were unrelated and unreasonable. Finally Tom Huddleston, sporting a beard, arrived and almost before he said anything is given the part ....... the film we at last discovered was The Sound of Music.
A small discussion group gathered and about half our number had enjoyed the main feature. There was also division over who was more at fault, the wife or the husband, and in the course of discussion that sometimes alternated. Everyone thought the short films were very good and entertaining.