Spoilers all over the gaff…
Jesus. Where do munki begin? A movie about an ageing London actress and her affair with a young American and a load of other stuff. But mainly, it’s about Annette Bening laughing. Laughing here, laughing there, laughing after crying. No, really, at any moment throughout the film, you have nervous sweat rolling down your back as you wait for her to laugh again. It’s not a terrifying laugh, just something so in your face that it almost jumps through the screen. Strange movie. Throughout the first half, all I wanted to do was sleep, like I had through a previous early 20th century actress on the boards movie, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day. An equally bizarre movie about the 1920s ragtime homeless slaves. But no, it was impossible to sleep, because every time I nodded off, Annette Bening started laughing. It wasn’t even that anything that was happening was funny, she-just-starts-fucking-laughing. After wanting to pull my eyes out and for a while wishing her son, who was acting in another movie, would die overseas in WW2 (he was the right age. It didn’t happen), for some bizarre reason I started enjoying the movie and by the end was practically jumping out of my seat wringing my hands in enthusiastic delight. Until I thought about a few small details.
Why was she always laughing?
Why was the American guy so bad, in the movie and also his acting?
Why did Jeremy Irons not read the script?
Why did Juliet Stevenson appear in a movie where all she had to do was react to Annette Bening’s fucking laughing?
Who was her friend, who turned out to be gay? I mean, who was he? Why was he in the movie? More laughter fodder?
Why, oh why was the Michael Gambon’s ghost appearing to give nods, winks and little speeches?
Why is the climax of the movie, a piece of theatre where a young actress is despicably humiliated by a feisty Julia, when the actress had done no act that could be deemed worse than those done by any of the other horrible characters?
Why, why, why, why, why, why, why, why was Annette Bening laughing so much? Why, will somebody tell me, whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy???????????????
Still, all in all, a delightful cinematic experience. Sweaty though.