Tuesday, February 07, 2006

hope and glory (or, how i wasted two hours of my life)

Well, i was procrastinating on Sunday, after the Superbowl, and decided to check out "Hope and Glory". I vaguely remember seeing some of it during my childhood, but i wanted to see the whole thing.
Wow, was that a tedious way of spending an hour and 53 minutes. The story follows a stereotypical English family during WW II. They live in a row house with a little back garden, identical to almost every row house in the lower class suburbs of London, or many other large English cities. The parents are middle class and appear to have the typical marriage: they have good times and bad times. They occasionally feel as if they have wasted their lives, and search for something more important. The three children fit the typical teenager, tween and youngest child roles. The father goes off to war (big surprise), the family struggles to come to grips with the danger that surrounds them. It is as if every WWII stereotype was combined into one movie. We have love stories, air raids, tragedy, and a happy Hollywood ending. Everything happens!We start with the 15 year old (looking very mature for her age) sneaking out of the house to rendezvous with a Canadian soldier, while her younger brother joins a gang of hoodlums (all boys of 8 or 9). He learns to swear, and gets to peer into a girls pants. What?!
Then it turns out the mother never really like her husband that much, and we can sense an affair of some sort (maybe only emotional) coming on.
But, before any of that can develop the house gets burned down, the daughter reveals that she's pregnant and the movie spreads itself so thin that the viewer begins to wonder if there could possibly be any more catastrophes or diverging story lines.
Some of the character development is reasonable. The movie basically follows the development of the boy, Bill, who goes from being quiet and innocent to being a bit mischievous. If the story stuck with Bill, and how he was affected by the war, it might be a good watch. He is an interesting character. We see him develop mentally and, to an extent, sexually. We see the effects of the war on him. Unfortunately we don't just see Bill, we see every other character, and the movie tries to develop 6 or 7 full-fledged story lines. It's just way too much to take in. We also see the developing love story between Bill's sister Dawn, and the Canadian soldier Mac. At first she claims she's only in it for the physical side, a confession that appalls her mother. But then the viewer realizes it's something more, at least to Mac. He proposes, only to be turned down and throw the ring away. Right on cue, Bill finds the ring. And Mac goes AWOL and is allowed to marry the heavily pregnant Dawn, only to be carted away by military police as soon as the ceremony is over.
Oh, and there’s a continuing theme of cricket. Bill’s father teaches him how to throw a ‘googlie’. Bill practices it throughout the movie and, in the last scene, bowls out his inebriated father with a well placed throw. So cheesy it’s not even funny.
I'm sorry, but this movie had way too many things going on, and was slightly implausible. And ridiculously long. So, i give it 2 and half stars out of 5.

1 comment:

Vladigogo said...

If I am remembering correctly though, Hope and Glory is based on the experiences of the film's director as a boy during WWII. So, if it is based on truth, does that change your perspective at all? In addition, I wonder if the film has a different resonance with Brits than Americans. We weren't really threatened on our mainland by WWII. In Britain the threat was there every night via the bombings that destroyed a great deal of London. The film kind of splits in half the two experiences--London during the blitz and then the countryside where the children are sent to be safe (like in NARNIA).

The part I remember so much is the "googlie." When I saw it, it was a new term for me and therefore fun to say.

Sorry you didn't like it. I remember liking it when I saw it but I am also an Anglophone. I will love anything British, well, except for some of the bad British sitcoms that PBS plays on Saturday nights.