HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
 
Newest Reviews
Wild Strawberries
Runner, The
Don't Look Up
Ghostbusters: Afterlife
Eternals
Forever Purge, The
Memoria
Venom: Let There Be Carnage
Legend of La Llorona, The
Japon
Glasshouse
Perdita Durango
Commando, The
Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched: A History of Folk Horror
Boiling Point
Malignant
Deadly Games
Ailey
Voyeurs, The
Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes
In the Earth
Hiroshima Mon Amour
Hotel Poseidon
Zola
No Time to Die
Klaus
Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey
Candyman
Power of the Dog, The
StageFright
Voyage of Time: An IMAX Documentary
Suicide Squad, The
One Night in Miami...
Old
Prince of Nothingwood, The
Gagarine
Mr. Jones
Enfants Terribles, Les
Slumber Party Massacre
Bones, The
   
 
Newest Articles
Sex vs Violence: In the Realm of the Senses on Blu-ray
What's So Funny About Brit Horror? Vampira and Bloodbath at the House of Death on Arrow
Keeping the Beatles Alive: Get Back
The Punk Rock Movie: Out of the Blue on Blu-ray
Yeah, Too Quiet: The Great Silence on Blu-ray
Vestron Double Bill: Dementia 13 and The Wraith
Farewell Dean Stockwell: His Years of Weirdness
Kung Fu Craft: Cinematic Vengeance! on Blu-ray
999 Letsbe Avenue: Gideon's Way on Blu-ray
Hungary for Cartoons: Hungarian Animations on MUBI
You Have No Choice: Invasion of the Body Snatchers on Blu-ray
You Can't Tame What's Meant to Be Wild: The Howling on Blu-ray
Commendably Brief: Short Sharp Shocks Vol. 2 on Blu-ray
Super Silents: Early Universal Vol. 2 on Blu-ray
Fable Fear: The Singing Ringing Tree on Blu-ray
Gunsight Eyes: The Sabata Trilogy on Blu-ray
Bloody Bastard Baby: The Monster/I Don't Want to Be Born on Blu-ray
Night of the Animated Dead: Director Jason Axinn Interview
The ParaPod: A Very British Ghost Hunt - Interview with Director/Star Ian Boldsworth
On the Right Track: Best of British Transport Films Vol. 2
The Guns of Nutty Joan: Johnny Guitar on Blu-ray
Intercourse Between Two Worlds: Twin Peaks Fire Walk with Me/The Missing Pieces on Blu-ray
Enjoy the Silents: Early Universal Vol. 1 on Blu-ray
Masterful: The Servant on Blu-ray
70s Sitcom Dads: Bless This House and Father Dear Father on Blu-ray
   
 
  Private Function, A Scenes From The Class Struggle In Yorkshire
Year: 1984
Director: Malcolm Mowbray
Stars: Michael Palin, Maggie Smith, Denholm Elliott, Richard Griffiths, Tony Haygarth, John Normington, Bill Paterson, Liz Smith, Alison Steadman, Jim Carter, Pete Postlethwaite, Eileen O'Brien, Rachel Davies, Reece Dinsdale, Philip Whileman, Charles McKeown
Genre: ComedyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: The year is 1947 and in Britain, rationing is still in effect, but to cheer the nation up there is a royal wedding soon. Joyce Chilvers (Maggie Smith) and her elderly mother (Liz Smith) are at the local cinema watching a newsreel telling them that although rationing is abided by in the United Kingdom, where it is growing stricter, in France there is a widespread black market in forbidden food. That couldn't happen here - could it? As Joyce plays the Might Wurlitzer for the cinemagoers (with mother refusing to sit anywhere but beside her), her husband Gilbert (Michael Palin) is doing his rounds as he is the small town's chiropodist. At the moment he is in the house of the local accountant, Allardyce (Richard Griffiths), attending to the feet of his wife (Alison Steadman) and there is a meeting being held in the next room with important townsfolk discussing what to do about the upcoming function to celebrate the wedding... a function that needs a lavish meal...

The perfectly, punningly titled A Private Function was the first film screenplay by Alan Bennett, and listening to the crisp dialogue you could hardly mistake it for the work of anyone else. Taken from a story from him and director Malcolm Mowbray, its strength was not so much in its plot but in the build up of detail that made plain the desperation of the era, and the callousness of living the life of the middle class when status was everything. Not one actor seems out of place in what is essentially an ensemble cast, and opening scenes, where Joyce's senile mother has replaced Gilbert's sandwiches with knitting in his lunchbox so she can scoff the food herself expertly sketches in the craving for food that everyone feels: you can almost hear the bellies rumbling.

What the conspiracy behind the function's meal is planning is to fatten and slaughter an unlicenced pig (called Betty), but the food inspector, Mr Wormold (Bill Paterson) is clamping down hard. The fact that he has no sense of taste or smell merely underlines that this joyless man is nothing more than a spoilsport, painting illegal meat green and labelling it "Unfit for Human Consumption". Yet the people he's depriving, that conspiracy, aren't especially likeable either, if anything less sympathetic, being thoroughly snobbish and mean-spirited; none more so than Dr Swaby (Denholm Elliott), a man who is outraged that the new National Health Service will force him to attend to anyone who asks him, including the poor. The only sympathetic one among them is Allardyce, who has grown quite attached to the pig and takes every opportunity to feed it treats.

All this results in great satisfaction when Gilbert, aggrieved that these men have forced him out of his new chiropody establishment which he hoped would have raised his standing in the community, decides to take matters into his own hands. His wife is constantly berating him and complaining that, for example, she has not been invited to the function, so he kidnaps Betty with the intention of slaughtering her. Unfortunately this is easier said than done as Gilbert grows fond of Betty proving that those who eat meat often don't have the guts to kill the animals themselves; that little hypocrisy settles well in the mood of the film. All the while, Joyce nags, and the conspiracy are onto them, but could there be a happy ending? Well, not for Betty, perhaps. The dialogue is superb ("Don't bring feet to the table, Gilbert"), and acid turns from the cast serve to enhance it, but overall the atmosphere is so cruel that it can stifle the laughter. A keenly observed study of British class and aspiration, but it wilts under its own uncompromising and withering gaze. Music by John Du Prez.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

This review has been viewed 4048 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
Jason Cook
Enoch Sneed
  Desbris M
  Paul Tuersley
  Chris Garbutt
   

 

Last Updated: