Posts Tagged ‘Michiel Huisman’

Our Own Private World

The Guernsey Literary &

Potato Peel Pie Society

Director: Mike Newell

Cast: Lily James, Glen Powell, Matthew Goode, Tom Courtenay, Michiel Huisman, Penelope Wilton, Jessica Brown Findlay, Nicolo Pasetti

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society has to be one of the longest names for a film ever. Yet despite its convoluted title is a richly rewarding film directed by Mike Newell (Four Weddings and a Funeral).

At the centre of this extraordinary tale set during and immediately after World War II in London and in Guernsey is a remarkable performance by British star Lily James as writer Juliet Ashton who discovers that the population of Guernsey have so immensely courageous World War stories to tell during the German occupation of this island.

In fact, not only did they survive the war, the close knit community even formed a literary and potato peel pie society – a private world whereby a small group of book lovers could discuss English literature from Shakespeare to the Bronte sisters over an extraordinary dish a potato peel pie, made without butter or cream.

In the midst of the private literary society is a mystery which Juliet Ashton uncovers about one of Guernsey’s more infamous residents Elizabeth McKenna wonderfully played with daring bravado by Downton Abbey’s Jessica Brown Findlay (Victor Frankenstein).

Members of this private literary society include the dashing pig farmer Dawsey Adams played by Dutch heartthrob Michiel Huisman from Game of Thrones fame, Amelia Maugery played by Penelope Wilton (The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel) and Eben Ramsey played by Oscar nominee Tom Courtenay (The Golden Compass, Nicholas Nickleby, Doctor Zhivago, The Dresser).

Juliet’s extravagant and confident American boyfriend is played by Glen Powell (Hidden Figures, Expendables 3), by what really makes The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society so fascinating is the layered historical story it tells about the inhabitants of the Channel Islands during the German Occupation.

Without giving the story away, this is a richly rewarding British war film held together by a strong classically trained cast, superbly directed by Mike Newell.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society gets a film rating of 8 out of 10 and is highly recommended viewing for lovers of uniquely British historical war films.

Immune to the Ravages of Time

The Age of Adaline

age_of_adaline

Director: Lee Toland Krieger

Cast: Blake Lively, Harrison Ford, Michiel Huisman, Kathy Baker, Ellen Burstyn, Amanda Crew, Mark Ghanime, Peter J. Gray

Set in San Francisco, The Age of Adaline gives Blake Lively a chance to play her hand at romance after being seen in Oliver Stone’s film Savages. It’s also the first major commercial film for rising Dutch star Michiel Huisman who has become famous for his sexy appearances in HBO’s Game of Thrones and Nashville.

Huisman and Lively make a beautiful couple onscreen even if there is no real tangible chemistry between them. It also does not help that The Age of Adaline is trying to emulate David Fincher’s Oscar nominated film about aging The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, which while beautifully shot was really a homage to New Orleans.

age_of_adaline_ver13

In this rather sepia light, director Lee Toland Krieger’s romantic drama The Age of Adaline is a homage to probably the most romantic city in America, San Francisco, as the film beautifully captures some wonderful aerial shots of the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco Bay. Early on in the film due to a unique scientific accident, the heroine Adaline Bowman discovers quite extraordinarily that she is immune to the ravages of time.

The ageless Adaline due to her gorgeous appearance is forced to change her identity every ten years which is going swimmingly well until she meets a tall dark handsome stranger Ellis Jones, sensitively played by Huisman, who let’s face it, like Lively, looks stunning onscreen.

The determined Ellis Jones encourages Adaline to come home with him one weekend to meet his parents and celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary. In an entirely contrived and almost implausible Danielle Steele sort of way, upon their arrival at the upstate home of Ellis’s parents, his father suitably played by Harrison Ford (Regarding Henry, Star Wars) recognizes Adaline as the girl he once fell in love with back in the early 1960’s in England.

In the hands of a more skilled director, The Age of Adaline would have become a very intriguing romantic drama, but unfortunately the central contrivance of the entire narrative is so glaringly obvious that only for the sake of vanity could this film conclude with a happy ending. Vanity and memory are two themes that the film explores in depth.

Nevertheless, despite the plot shortages on both sides of the San Francisco Bay, The Age of Adaline is a stunning film to watch and will appeal to all lovers of romance and those that enjoyed such films as the quirky Richard Curtis comedy About Time and of course The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.

Unfortunately, such talented actresses as Oscar winner Ellen Burstyn (Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, Requiem for a Dream) and Kathy Baker (Jacknife, The Cider House Rules, Saving Mr Banks) are wasted in this foggy romantic drama, which is as vague as the sighting of a comet near earth in the distant future.

The Age of Adaline had two gorgeous stars, plus an A-List megastar like Ford but unfortunately while beautiful to watch, lacked a firmer direction, which is a pity since the film did not fulfill its complete potential.

A More Impressive Mrs Brown

The Young Victoria

Regal, beautiful and rebellious to the point of gaining an Empire

Regal, beautiful and rebellious to the point of gaining an Empire

The Young Victoria is a treat for any dedicated royalist and purveyor of British history and shows Queen Victoria as she ascends the throne and deals with her first and only love, the marriage to Prince Albert of Germany, perfectly portrayed by Rupert Friend. Emily Blunt takes the part of the headstrong Victoria perfectly with the correct amount of poise and dedication and is supported by a fine cast such as Miranda Richardson as the Duchess of Kent, Mark Strong as Sir John Conroy and Paul Bettany as Lord Melbourne.

Previous film version about Queen Victoria only showed her as a reclusive widow hiding away in Balmoral as the 19th centure draws to a close while she is being wooed by a country groundskeeper played with Scottish tenacity by Billy Connolly with Dame Judi Dench taking the role in the superbly under-rated Mrs Brown.

Royalty and the birth of Victorian traditions in all its grandeur

In this film version with a wonderful script by Oscar winning screenwriter Julian Fellowes (Gosforth Park), captures the intrigue of the 19th century British court and how the Royalty then was so tied in with all European aristocracy demonstrating the formation of a strong consolidation of power, which eventually lead to the likes of King Leopold of Belgium, Prince Albert’s uncle and Queen Victoria’s government plundering Africa for the riches and expansions of a colonial empire, known as the scramble for that unknown continent giving historical insight into the treacheries and triumphs of the 19th century and the vast discrepancies which haunt the 21st century.

Nevertheless politics aside, The Young Victoria is a wonderful tale of a young girl who shrugs off the confinements of the Kensington system (a particular set of rules governing etiquette) and ascend the British thrown to become the second longest running monarch in British History second to only Queen Elizabeth I. The difference between the two Queens is while Elizabeth remained the epicentre of her own sovereignty and did not produce an heir, Victoria established a dynasty which is still surviving today.

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The Young Victoria is highly recommended as a fitting cinematic tribute to all that was once lavish where decorum reigned supreme and etiquette and conservation of dignity was regarded as the foundation of a powerful yet ultimately flawed civilization, to a nation that established its hegemony and was sure to lose that supremacy centuries later, only to be left with the vestiges of all those colonial expansions…

At the centre of any Empire was a ruler, in this case Victoria, like all charismatic leaders started off as impressionable and malleable but soon developed the skills of diplomacy and manipulation, especially playing the rules of power and politics on her own terms.

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