I am a gearhead, or as they say across the pond, a "petrolhead." While this ostensibly disqualifies me from writing a movie review, my British friends think otherwise. Particularly if I am writing about British films.
The flim you need to watch is called This Sporting Life from 1964. It is a classic of the British New Wave (predated the French) and perhaps the most famous of the "kitchen sink dramas" set in the economically-depressed regions of Nothern England.
It is directed by the great Lindsay Anderson (his first feature film) who went on to direct the scandalous …If with Malcom McDowell at the end of the decade. It also features the performance of a lifetime by Richard Harris (his first feature flim lead) and Rachel Roberts (nominated for an Oscar, as was, I think, Harris.)
For a critical appraisal of this classic, simply read the review on the Criterion Flims website (get all your flims–buy and own them— from this website and waste no time with anything else) or check out Strictly Film School.
For a monkeywrench review, here are my thoughts:
This is a brutal flim. Many consider it the finest British flim ever made (questionable, but worth considering). It is unflinching and unstinting in its attention to emotional and aesthetic detail.
What really makes it work for me, however, is Richard Harris’ perfomrnace and that of Ms.Roberts. While it was said at the time that Harris was aping Brando in This Sporting Life, I feel he provides a far more emotionally nuanced performance of an athlete with feelings than "I coulda’ been a contenda" Marlon and his assorted women.
I wonder if there is even such a thing as a British method actor?
Leave it to the Americans to coin a buzz phrase. Leave it to the British to mint the finest actors on the planet. (Think Tom Hollywood Hanks in Forrest’s Hump versus Peter Sellers in Being There.)
Alas, why should you watch this film about sports?
1) Because it is about sports.
2) Because it is about women.
3) Because it has not one, but two classic Bentleys.
4) Because it shows that apes like you and I can have feelings.
5) Because it says something about living life over keeping your head in the sand (whether in the suburbs or the skyscraper you inhabit downtown).
Part Two, including a very greasy plot synopsis, to follow soon. I am too drained from watching. I have feelings.
(Impatient? There’s always Wikipedia.)