Review- The Servant (1963)

Review- The Servant (1963)

After he has come back from travelling, a wealthy young man named Tony (James Fox) decides to employ a house servant. Hugo Barrett (Dirk Bogarde) successfully applies for the position. The relationship works well but this soon changes when Tony’s girlfriend Susan starts to spend time at Tony’s abode. She seems not to treat Barrett as human and takes the role of ‘master’ to his ‘servant’ to almost cruel lengths. Things get even more surreal with the introduction of Barrett’s ‘sister’ who comes to work under Tony in the same subservient role.

I’m surprised I’ve only just seen this film for the first time. It was worth the wait. This is brilliant on every level. There are universally fantastic performances especially from Fox and Bogarde who throw themselves into the descent into madness which Harold Pinter’s adaptation of Robin Maugham’s book portrays.

In fact, Pinter has a cameo role in the scene in the restaurant which epitomises the convention-breaking nature of the material at hand. We are shown an excerpt from the conversation from each table in the venue. We’re privileged enough to become privy to multiple different narratives and stories from many different characters, not just Tony and his girlfriend. One of these pairings is Pinter as a socialite and his date.

THE SERVANT - UK Poster 1

Check out director Joseph Losey’s use of mirrors to portray the action but also to distort it’s view to the audience just as the film’s events are being shaped and distorted. Also, check out Douglas Slocombe’s cinematography which is breathtaking.

The film also reverses, subverts and delightfully fiddles around with the power dynamic of the ‘master’ and ‘servant’- who is serving who? Do the truly subservient characters even realise?

In fact, things get so surreal that I would have sworn that Pinter had written this story himself rather than just adapting it. This would make a great triple-bill with William Friedkin’s The Birthday Party (also written by Pinter) and Polanski’s Repulsion.

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On The Servant’s release it won a raft of awards and rightfully so. It also resides on The BFI’s Top 100 British Film’s list.

4 out of 5 stars

 

Review- ‘Border’ (2018)

Review- ‘Border’ (2018)

Before I saw this film I heard a film critic on TV say that the least you know about this film, the more you will get from it. Oh, and that it’s a real gem of a film that leads it’s audience to some truly unexpected places!

After seeing the film I can agree 100% with both of these points! This film is amazing. But if you’re here looking for a plot synopsis then you’ll be disappointed. All I will say is that this is the best movie featuring a character who possesses an over developed sense of smell since John Waters’ Polyester. And this is NOTHING like Polyester!

Border is a Swedish film (it’s called ‘Grans’ in it’s native language) which is amazing on every level- but especially acting, cinematography, locations and direction. And then theres the plot. Oh my. There were times during this film that made my jaw hit the floor.

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Nope- my movie review isn’t even going to feature pics from the film. You’ll thank me when you see the film. Less knowledge is more when it comes to ‘Border’. 

There are many themes contained within the film including issues of identity, feeling like you have no proper place in the world and that you don’t ‘fit’…A major theme that the film makes it’s audience contemplate is when others have sought to make you feel like less than human just because of who you are, realising that everything you’ve thought to be the truth about you and your life is a lie and feeling empowered, euphoric and liberated after you’ve learnt the truth. You’re bolder and stronger because of this and so you start living a better and truer life. You won’t get this from watching Captain Marvel.

This was the most unique cinema-going experience I’ve undergone since a friend took me to see Irreversible in 2004. No, I’m not saying that this is the cinematic shocker that Irreversible is (and let’s face it- no film is as shocking as Irreversible) but it’s vision is just as unique, thought provoking, beautiful and disturbing.

If Border isn’t on my end of year list for 2019’s best movies then I’ll eat my hat. If I wore a hat that is.

4/5 out of 5 stars.