Thank you so much everyone for all the lovely comments and kind emails I received about my birthday, not to mention the nice surprises in the mail. I don't think I've ever gotten such a large amount of emails in one day before. I really appreciate each and every single one of them. I also spoke on the Jane Eyre preview film panel last night, and got some really fantastic questions from the audience. I love a good discussion about film! But I'll tell you more about that in my next guest post for Leeloo soon.
Speaking of my birthday and lovely surprises in the mail, I received a dvd from a very good friend of mine in England. Based on Elizabeth Taylor's novel, Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont is a film that has a sentimental meaning for my friend and I. The day after a party, we couldn't be bothered cleaning up, and decided to nurse our headaches with some dvds instead. Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont was the first dvd we saw that day (randomly selected from the shelf), and I always associate this film with finally feeling at home in England. When I returned to Australia I searched for this dvd, but couldn't find it. So I was thrilled that my friend remembered this and sent me a copy, along with a deliciously long letter.
This is a sweet and modest film. There is ostensibly, nothing remarkable about it, but that's where its charm lies. It's a simple tale, told in an appealing and unpretentious manner. Mrs Palfrey (Joan Plowright), an elderly widowed woman who is abandoned by her family in a London retirement hotel, becomes close friends with a young writer named Ludovic Meyer (Rupert Friend) after they meet during an accident. The bond they develop is not a romantic one, even if Ludovic does remind her of her late husband. The film isn't really about exploring sexual relationships. Rather, it explores the bonds of friendship that we form with people at certain stages in our lives, and how these bonds can be stronger and closer than the ties of family and blood. I think it's rare for a film to focus on such a friendship - usually it's the other way round with an older man and a younger woman, and the relationship is typically sexual. Here, the roles are reversed, and are also more interesting.
I have to admit that a large part of the film's appeal lies in the character of Ludovic. This is not just because he's played by Rupert friend, who looks so handsome throughout most of the film, in a scruffy sort of way. It's more because he is such a good person, without being too sugary sweet or stereotypical. What I particularly like about the film's portrayal of his characters is his nature as a writer. Every time I thought the film was resorting to the cliche of the tortured writer, it pulled itself back, and instead presented a rather sensitive, but realistic person before us, trying his best to write. There were moments in the film that reminded me of this quote from Jack Kerouac's notebook:
You don’t realize what a strain it is on the nerves to write or think-of-writing all day long, and to sleep full of nervous dreams, and to wake up not knowing who one is: - this all stems from anxiety about finishing the book, about time ‘growing short’ , etc., and the perpetual strain of invention. (quote from here.)
I can totally relate to this feeling right about now, trying to finish my own book. And watching this film, I felt it was sympathetic to this process, in its own subdued manner. There are so many films that are over the top these days, it's nice to enjoy quieter films, and appreciate the small details they have to offer. I think the nicest thing for me about this film though is remembering that feeling of lying on my friend's couch after such a great night. I love how certain films become part of personal memories.
Thanks again for all the birthday wishes. xx