A dark comedy of discomfort, set in 1954 England and inspired by a real-life murder case. Estranged from his family since adolescence, impressionable, emotionally needy merchant seaman Harold Guppy (Rupert Graves) tries to go home again, moving to the
provincial small town where his married brother lives. Politely rebuffed by his brother's chilly wife, Harold takes lodgings with a local family, where maternal, middle-aged Mrs. Beasley (Julie Walters) earns his affections by treating him as a pampered son. But things get a bit dicey when Mrs.
Beasley -- Marjorie, please -- alternately cajoles and bullies Harold into a torrid affair. It's further complicated by his uneasy relationship with her 14-year-old daughter Joyce (Laura Sandler), who's both precocious and strangely sheltered. To say that the situation ends badly is a huge
understatement. Set against a backdrop of stifling social propriety, sexual repression and post-WWII deprivation, this bleakly comic, family melodrama is driven by the monstrous conflation of the maternal and the erotic that is Marjorie Beasley, played with ferocious, suffocating sweetness by
Walters. Weak-willed, everyman-child Guppy doesn't stand a chance against her overwhelming will, any more than do her children, her crippled and sex-starved husband or the silly local girl who gets pregnant: No one escapes Marjorie's syrupy homilies or steely endorsement of the status quo. This
sort of ironic wallow in the sordid grotesquerie that lies beneath a brittle veneer of oh-so-polite Brit propriety isn't everyone's cup of poisoned tea, but fans of HEAVENLY CREATURES, THE KRAYS and THE YOUNG POISONER'S HANDBOOK will want to drink up.
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- Released: 1995
- Rating: R
- Review: A dark comedy of discomfort, set in 1954 England and inspired by a real-life murder case. Estranged from his family since adolescence, impressionable, emotionally needy merchant seaman Harold Guppy (Rupert Graves) tries to go home again, moving to the pro… (more)