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Plenty Reviews

Adapted by playwright-director David Hare ("A Map of the World", WETHERBY) from his own play, PLENTY follows the fortunes of Englishwoman Susan Traherne (Meryl Streep) from her thrilling days as a courier behind the lines in occupied France through the boredom she experiences in her postwar life. During the war, in France, she has a brief but passionate affair with a dashing young British agent called Lazar (Sam Neill). When she returns to England after the war, she is unable to forget him. Taking a stab at bohemian life, she becomes involved in a calculated relationship with Mick (Sting), a working-class gent she's decided will make a suitable father for her child. When they fail to produce a baby, however, Susan drops Mick and eventually marries Raymond Brock (Charles Dance), a patient, polished foreign service officer she follows around the globe. But the life of a diplomat's wife is hardly satisfying for the increasingly frustrated and neurotic Susan, and her cruelty to her husband worsens as the years pass. On its face, director Fred Schepisi's film concerns a woman whose warped personality becomes less rational and more malicious as she realizes she will never recapture the excitement of her life during wartime; however, Hare's well-crafted screenplay also uses Susan as a symbol of the squandered hopes for a better postwar Britain. Middle-class Susan and working-class Mick's inability to produce a child is symbolic of postwar Labor governments' failure to eliminate class division and inequity from British society, even in a time of economic "plenty." Intriguing and generally overlooked, PLENTY works on both levels. Employing yet another flawless accent, Streep delivers an excellent, restrained but edgy performance, well supported by Dance, Sting, and Ullman, who plays her best friend.