Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Brideshead - and friends - revisited

Yesterday I had a lovely trip out to Solihull to meet writer friend Liz, her daughter Gail and her adorable grandson Jamie.

I'd had a rather rough weekend, with Dave away working and ructions with the next-door neighbour over the boundary fence (he's threatening to assume ownership himself...) so I was a bit frazzled to begin with. The weather didn't play ball either, being dark, damp and drizzly most of the day, so even pretty little Solihull didn't look its best.

We had a really nice time, though, chatting about this and that, catching up on news of mutual friends, and watching Jamie toddle about in the rose garden at Malvern Park. All very relaxing, and exactly what I needed after the hassles of the weekend.

Later on I watched the latest film of Brideshead Revisited on Sky Movies. I've read the book and watched and loved the old 1980s series with Jeremy Irons and Anthony Andrews, so I was intrigued to see how they'd managed with this adaptation. The answer is, not half bad. It lacked the sheer charm of the series, and because it was so much shorter some of the detail was lost. Matthew Goode as Charles was excellent, but I didn't rate Ben Wishaw quite as highly playing Sebastien. He seemed too much of a sullen teenager and lacked the sheer aching sadness of Andrews' performance. And my biggest criticism was that they swept the gay relationship under the carpet, hinting strongly that it was all on Sebastien's part, and that Charles was in love with Julia from the start. I'm not sure that's in keeping with the book - was it watered down for the American market, like so much these days? However, the film was a lot better than I expected, with some excellent performances from the supporting cast and a great period 'feel'. And I was amused to see that once again, Castle Howard stood in as Brideshead. Presumably the producers felt it was so synonymous with Brideshead in peoples' minds that they didn't dare film it anywhere else!

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