The Romantic Englishwoman,(Une anglaise romantique) Reviews
This was a strange one. Glenda Jackson plays, as she always does well, a restless desirer - emotionally and sexually unfulfilled in the role of mother and wife - who wants to reclaim some sense of freedom but can't bring herself to abandon her son. There's a bunch of really interesting commentary on how men and their society enslave women with just enough comfort that women feel guilty wanting more. Really enjoyed how sort of throwaway character Isabel drops a whole bunch of badass knowledge on Michael Caine as he screams in her face like a busted 5 year old throwing a tantrum. Caine, a writer who is so overwhelmed with jealous suspicions about his largely innocent wife that he not only decides to write a screenplay about her cheating on him, but he also invites a total stranger into their home and shoves them together as much as he can in an attempt to catch them cheating. Then Helmut Berger acts as basically a blank catalyst, like a Germanic hustler Albert Camus just rolling with whatever life throws at him.
The top problem with the movie is that they get too lost in telling the story from Caine and Berger's point of view, when Glenda Jackson is really the only truly interesting character in the entire film. I'd be curious to see if the book is a little more fleshed out? Either way, it's definitely an interesting watch but Stoppard and Losey keep the focus too boys-club to truly get to anything emotional here.
And finally - the poster for this just has like absolutely no basis in this film and it's kind of funny. I mean, she gets naked but never like THAT. Also why in god's name would you feature Michael Caine's dumb face over Alan Delon rip-off hottie Helmut Berger???????? Buncha men making bad decisions all around with this film, man.
"The Romantic Englishwoman" is a prime example of when very dull things happen to great actors. So much so, that they can do little with the material at hand. Admittedly, telling Thomas' story with as little as dialogue as possible is a neat touch.(And you have to admit it. Thomas does have style.) But even with such potential, the movie, not able to decide between romance, comedy, psychological drama, meta weirdness or thriller, just decides to sit there for long stretches. Maybe it would have helped if the story had started off with Lewis' first conversation with Herman(Rene Kolldehoff) as a way of introducing everybody. Maybe not.
Speaking of the cast, Glenda Jackson has her charismatic dignity in almost every scene although regularly shoehorned between Berger‚(TM)s perpetual snug grin and Caine‚(TM)s perpetual sullen stare, and eventually cannot save the film from the mire of a psychological drama swamped with behavioural absurdities and non-consistent narrative. The fierce-looking wife with a bob cut and perfectly trimmed fringes, who is discontent with her middle-class lifestyle (her writer husband has immersed into the writer‚(TM)s block when writing a film script and becomes paranoid about her adultery in her solo trip to Baden-Baden), tries her luck to elope with a self-claimed German poet (whose real identity is only hinted by smuggling small-time drugs and cruising of elderly lonely-hearts), whom she has met before in Baden-Baden, but is there a fling between them in their previous encounter? The film never answer the question, a corny exploit being overused here.
Richard Harley‚(TM)s lyrical string score has stolen the thunder since more often than not, I am very much a visual observer than a sonic perfectionist. Also I quite prefer the slowly panning camera in carefully constructing a hunter and prey game in the beginning part in Baden-Baden to the dreadful and ostentatious meandering in the labyrinth of feigned sentimentality, claiming inane quips like ‚Englishwoman is the most romantic‚? (Berger‚(TM)s German accent is a major buzz-killer), I hope someone else could be fortunate enough to fully digest all the hocus-pocus and be grateful towards this ill-fated film adaption.
The movie starts off slow but once the three characters are brought together, it becomes intriguing. Superb performances by Jackson, Caine and Kate Nelligan as a family friend. However, the final 1/2 hours gets too melodramatic and makes "The Romantic Englishwoman" foolish. It ends unconvincingly.