Sadly Neglected Small Gem from Lovely Bonahm Carter
Tsuyoshi | Kyoto, Japan | 06/21/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Originally called "Keep the Aspidistra Flying," which is also the title of George Orwell's 1936 original novel, "A Merry War" showcases the following two charming things: Richard E Grant as a poet by profession (so he thinks) and Helena Bonham Carter as a dedicated lover. Those fans of them, who are dismayed to see them in Hollywood made products like "Hudson Hawk" or the remake "The Planet of Apes" respectively would be infinitely delighted to see them shining in this charming little drama. And you will see cute Ms. Bonham Carter wearing glasses (a rare thing) and look so brilliant. No more ape make-up, please.The story, which is semi-autobiographical of Eric Arthur Blair (known as George Orwell), follows the hero Gordon Comstock, who suddenly leaves the office "New Albion" an ad agency in order to be a poet and a free man. No more slaves to money, he vows, but naturally, as we all know from the beginning, he starts to stumble gradually into the financial troubles. His friends -- rich publisher Ravelston, his sister Julia, and most of all his love and former co-worker and illustrator Rosemary -- try to support him and persuade him into the original course of life, "respectable" life of copywriter, but Gordon stubbornly refuses. Gordon goes -- How can they say such things when his first book of poems "Mice" was praised by The Times Literary Supplement" with the comment "exceptional promise"? But promose was just promise, and he slowly realizes that his happiness lies only in the life with Rosemary, who is always faithful, caring, and around him.The film is perfectly crafted around the leading characters, and they are played by those splendid actors. Grant utters his witty, acid remarks as if spitting out, turning his wickedly satrical lines into instant charm of language, and though sometimes his character is shown in a very negative light, Grant manages to maintain our sympathy with Gordon, who is obviously no talent. Like Johnny Depp in "Ed Wood" we know he is not going to make it. Still, we care about him and his too naive, crazy, sensitive side of Gordon. Also Helena Bonham Carter is a pure delight to watch, and without familiar costume of Victorian or Edwardian middle-class society (her clothes are here very ordinary ones) she establishes with a slight comic touch a lovely character of Rosemary whom every man with level-headed brain would crave for. Unfortunately, Gordon takes a long time to see that.The director Robert Bierman, like he did in excellent adaptation of Wilkie Collins' "The Moonstone," shows pretty faithful version of the original book, which contains many satires on British middle-class mentality. "Aspidistra" of the title is used in the book as a symbol of middle-class respectability, but the film wisely avoids going deeply in for utilizing the motif. Instead, the film set its forcus upon the romance side of the book, and turned out a great success. Though you many feel the film lacks in more substance, or too light, little seen "The Merry War" deserves to be seen more, because of the charm of the two leads exude. If nothing more it can offer to you, the delightful couple only would justify your paying money for the enjoyable 100 minutes.The film's newer title phrase "A Merry War" appears in the middle of the original book when Gordon & Rosemary go hiking in Chater 6, which I quote: "Each laughed with delight at the other's absurdities. There was a merry war between them. Even as they disputed, arm in arm, they pressed their bodies delightfully together." Very appropriate to describe the relations of this lovely couple, as you will see in the film."
A Merry War Is A Delightful Film
L. Shirley | fountain valley, ca United States | 01/06/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This review refers to "A Merry War" (VHS)
Helena Bonham Carter will charm your socks off. Richard Grant will have a smile pasted on your face for the entire length of the film. "A Merry War" is a delightful period piece, that you may want to replay again very soon.
Gordon Comstock(Grant) is an 'international poet' wannabe in the 1930's. He has a flair for the craft, he just can't seem to catch a break. He blames his misfortune on being middle class. He becomes obsessed with wanting to rise out of his station in life and live among the elite.He even has it in his head that his girlfriend(Carter)is holding out her favors because he has no money. When he does catch a little bit of a break, he hardly knows how to conduct himself. What Comstock doesn't see, is that he has what he is looking for right in front of him. Friends who care, a boss who respects and admires his work, and a woman who loves him deeply.
Based on the novel "Keep the Aspidistra Flying"(George Orwell), it's a film that will leave you smiling and with that feel good satisfaction. Director Robert Bierman does a fine job of taking us back to this period in time, right down to the marvelous costumes.
If you haven't seen this one yet, and you love a good tongue-in-cheek, romantic comedy, or a wonderful period piece, you must check this one out. If you have already seen it, have another look and remember why you liked it so much the first time around.
also recommended: Les Choses De La Vie (Original French Title) The Ice Storm Unbearable Lightness of Being [ NON-USA FORMAT, PAL, Reg.2 Import - Netherlands ]
Decent film with a few great character turns.
Travis Randolph (goldman-west@richm | 08/25/1999
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This is a fairly amusing period film that would really lag without a great supporting cast. Richard E. Grant pretty much just irritates as the would-be poet. (Maybe I'm prejudiced; I once dated a guy just like this.) Julian Wadham, on the other hand, as his aristocratic publisher, absolutely shines. This actor has been in a couple of other great film roles in the last couple of years (The Madness of King George, The English Patient) and I can't figure out why he isn't getting leading roles. He's magnificent."
Unjustly neglected small gem of a film......
L. Shirley | 06/21/1999
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Because wit and charm are in short supply these days, both in the culture at large and in film, "A Merry War" stands as an important piece of work. Literate, humorous, and bitingly satirical, the film also gives us Helena Bonham Carter and Richard E. Grant as two rich, fascinating characters who are worth spending time with. The film is based on a story by George Orwell and like "1984," the story covers conformity and the need for the human spirit to triumph over mindless commercialism and statism."
"Richard E. Grant is hysterical, Bonham Carter, his devoted girlfriend is wise and middle class which is where they part and then re-unite. Both are employed (between the world wars) as copywriter and graphic artist for a London advertising agency. Grant, believing he has a future as a poet, "quits" his day job for a life of "art." Downward he spirals, embraces a bohemian lifestyle, embracing his freedom. Alas, middle class responsibilities, sexual tension and love for another ultimately balance their lives. Very funny, intelligent, and downright enjoyable. Any Anglophile will enjoy!!!"