Glorious 39

"Excellent"

Glorious 39 Review


Telling a story from a rarely examined period of British history, this pre-war drama is a bundle of suspense, mystery and personal emotion that's beautifully filmed and sharply played by a first-rate cast.

Anne (Garai) is the adopted eldest daughter of powerful politician Alexander Keyes (Nighy) and his wife (Agutter), who went on to have two of their own children (Redmayne and Temple). It's the glorious summer of 1939, when Britain felt like it had averted conflict with Hitler, so when Anne stumbles on hints of a government conspiracy, she turns to a fellow actor (Bonneville) and her boyfriend (Cox) for help. But the mystery only deepens, compounded by a sinister Home Office official (Northam) and the distracting presence of her Aunt Elizabeth (Christie).

The story is framed by a modern-day sequence in which a young man (Toby Regbo) approaches two aged gentlemen (the wonderful Lee and Redgrave) to find out what really happened 70 years earlier. Even so, the tale unfolds from Anne's perspective, which offers Poliakoff the chance to play with cinematic point of view. This involves indulging in scenes that are both gorgeously picturesque and fraught with Hitchcockian tension. He also creates especially vivid characters, which gives the cast plenty to chew on.

Garai is radiant at the centre of the film, and holds her own in both the light romance and some extremely harrowing sequences. She also looks especially ravishing in the period costumes, which Poliakoff uses as a contrast to the whispered Cinderella-esque aspersions against her. Most of the other actors offer charming turns that are shaded with the seriousness of the events. Nighy shines in a steelier role than he usually gets, and Christie is terrific as the frightfully posh Elizabeth.

The one odd note is Northam's slightly too-evil character. But then, he is here to continually remind us of the mystery at the centre of the slightly too-busy plot. The film's shift from bright and witty to violent and even horrific is deftly handled, effectively keeping us off balance, which of course lets us identify with Anne even more. But in the end, it's the resonant themes that catch us by surprise, as Britain becomes a police state to respond to a fearful global situation.



Glorious 39

Facts and Figures

Run time: 129 mins

In Theaters: Friday 20th November 2009

Budget: $6M

Distributed by: E1 Entertainment

Production compaines: BBC Films, Quickfire Films, Magic Light Picturs, Magic Light Pictures, Talkback Thames

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 45%
Fresh: 10 Rotten: 12

IMDB: 6.5 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Stephen Poliakoff

Producer: , Barney Reisz

Starring: as Anne Keyes, as Alexander, as Aunt Elizabeth, as Ralph, as Celia, as Hector, as Lawrence, as Joseph Balcombe, as Older Walter Page, as Oliver Page, as Gilbert, as Maud, Sam Kubrick-Finney as young Walter Page, as Michael Walton, Muriel Pavlow as old Anne Keyes

Also starring:

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