The Bayley Film Club: Terence Davies

WEEK 11: 

Director: Terence Davies

Film 1: ‘The Deep Blue Sea’
Film 2: ‘A Quiet Passion’

 

The Deep Blue Sea

Author: Agsy E Drapinska

Anticipation: 3
Enjoyment: 3
Retrospect: 3

Score: 9

The Deep Blue Sea’ is a film for people who love theatre, because the most noticeable thing about it is that it was made in a way that seems to be transferred 1:1 from the theatrical scenes. All about it screams – ‘Theatre!’ – the delicate violin in the background, the limited scenography, the atmosphere, even the camera work. And I liked it for it.

I also liked it for the acting performance of Rachel Weisz, Tom Hiddleston, and Simon Rusell Beale – playing the main roles of Hester Collyer, Freddie Page, and Sir William Collyer. The tension in this threesome was changing very dynamically. In most scenes, the room’s temperature can be cut with a knife.

The story itself isn’t very ground-breaking – an overly repeated scenario of exchanging the boring-but-wealthy marriage for passionate-but-poor love. What bothered me though was the all-too-well portrayed vision of a woman through extremely patriarchal male eyes. A woman that is incapable of making rational decisions, is consumed by passion and driven only by emotions. A woman that cannot see any value in her life when envisioning it without her lover. Finally, a woman who is not even a full person without her partner and acts more like a slave or servant – ready to give up anything, any minute (or at least promise it) just for another one on one moment.

Then, on the other hand, we have a young man. A man in his glory days. A man that is immature on occasion but enjoying himself and living by his own rules. Finally, a man that has absolute power in the relationship and deals all the cards.  

If not for the last scene of Hester putting herself together – I would have been quite disappointed with the storyline. But the view of her optimistically looking into the future, after being freed from Freddie, gave me something of a relief. 

 

A Quiet Passion

Author: Agsy E Drapinska

Anticipation: 4
Enjoyment: 4
Retrospect: 4

Score:12

A Quiet Passion’ pictures the life of Emily Dickinson – one of the most famous American poets. However, it is not only the brilliant poet that we see. We get to see her passions, her struggles, her strength, her character in making.

Mr. Davies introduces us to Emily when she is still a teenager and at school. Starting with scenes of rebellion against the Headmistress, he wants to show us clearly how important independence of thought is to Emily. 

Emily Dickinson was unfortunate to be born in times, when all that was expected of women, was to marry and give birth. It was common knowledge, that women couldn’t possess ambition, intelligence, or any talents whatsoever, and if they were – they are obliged to forget about all that nonsense the moment they marry. For a driven and gifted woman with a brain of her own, who was ready to question everything and everybody and who at the same time had the brain capacity to do so – it must have been challenging.

Emily was very religious and her morality was carved in stone, she was stubborn and recognized herself as being blessed but only with intelligence and not the looks. Believing strongly in her destiny she worked hard writing every night, finding happiness in words, epithets, and metaphors. Giving up on any chance of romance, and so broadly accepted by society life of a wife. She understood that no husband would let her write during the night – as her father allowed. Since poetry was her first love, she stayed devoted to it.

Terence Davies beautifully blends the personal life of the poet with her work. Presenting to us a full picture of Emily Dickinson with all the curves and sharp edges. After watching the film, I could almost feel like I knew her. Reaching an effect like that was possible thanks to both actresses playing Emily – Emma Bell and Cynthia Nixon. I must say, they gave a truly great performance. And the poems! You will find me in a bookstore tomorrow, buying Emily’s Dickinson books of poetry.

 

The Deep Blue Sea

Author: NA Tonge

Anticipation: 2
Enjoyment: 4
Retrospect: 4

Score: 10

Based on Terrence Rattigan’s play of the same name, Terrence Davies’ film is an outstanding romantic drama, which gives the audience the feel of sitting in the front row from their sofa. 

Set in post-war London, Hester leaves her older and more professional, but no less caring and loving, husband Sir William Collyer, for the younger, exciting and handsome war veteran, Freddie Page. 

The main plotline comprises a few scenes the day following Hester’s attempted suicide, caused by Freddie’s unreciprocated intense love felt towards him by her, or at least not in the way that she would like. Like Sir William, the audience is asked to question why Hester decided to have an affair with Freddie. Whilst the audience is not privy to the nature of Hester’s marriage to Sir William, there is no allusion to any particular marital issues.

Why Freddie does not share Hester’s feelings to the same or higher level is not know. Basically, Freddie turns out to be selfish and childish. He’s more handsome than her husband and as a result, she probably has more enjoyable sex with him, which makes her believe that she loves him. Freddie doesn’t even seem to have much patter; he’s very self-absorbed. 

Ultimately, ‘The Deep Blue Sea’ acts as a cautionary tale in which an uncontrollable desire for sex with more attractive partners can blow-up in your face. Nevertheless, it is superbly shot, with gripping scenes of flowing dialogue. 

A Quiet Passion

Author: NA Tonge

Anticipation: 2
Enjoyment: 3
Retrospect: 3

Score: 8

‘A Quiet Passion’ is the biopic of American poet, Emily Dickinson. It begins with a young Emily rebelling against the religious framework which dominated her all-girl boarding school. She is allowed to return to her stately family home in Massachusetts, where the rest of the film takes place. 

Whilst I did not particularly enjoy ‘A Quiet Passion’, Cynthia Nixon’s performance as Emily was fantastic and this was what kept me engaged. Her sharp performance matches that of Emily’s whit. However, as Emily’s health deteriorates, so does he humility, and this turn is performed superbly by Nixon. 

Emily refuses to take a husband or conform to the expectations of women during the time in general. She views marriage as a constrict to creativity. A view that few women took at the time, or at least stuck by it.

Whilst she was taken by a sad illness, Emily did not give up an inch of freedom.

 

We turn not older with years but newer every day.

~ Emily Dickinson

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