Monday, 4 May 2009

No. 117 : Wish You Were Here

In an English sea side town in the 1950’s there’s not a lot to do, well unless you look like Emily Lloyd! The film opens with the iconic scene of Emily riding her bike around town with her skirt tucked into her knickers. Given her carefree and happy demeanour you’d be forgiven for thinking the title is an inspirational one but it’s not, for grim times lie ahead.

The film was originally intended to be Cynthia Payne’s childhood but it soon outgrew that restraint and with Cynthia renamed Linda the director was free to open her up to all manner of experiences.

At 16 Linda is just blossoming into womanhood. A local lad takes her to the flicks but he’s a bit slow and is soon replaced with Marcus Tandy out of the bus garage. Despite his worldly ways he’s a bit of a letdown in the sack and she’s soon off looking for more fresh meat.

Juxtaposed against her free spirited ways are the grim scenes with her family and most notably her Dad. Dad is a social climber and his daughter’s hijinx cause him no end of grief. After getting her jobs at the bus depot and chip van he loses his rag and takes her to see a psychiatrist who feels the loss of her mother may have given her issues. It’s hard to argue especially as she’s in the background while the prognosis is being given flashing her knickers.

Soon Linda is getting it on with her father’s bookie Tom Bell who soon knocks her up condemning Linda to a seemingly bleak future. After being sent away to have the child we have to wonder if she’ll manage to grow up and make the best of her situation.

This is a really enjoyable slice of life with a cracking lead performance from Emily Lloyd. Daughter of Trigger, she does well as a 16 year old flirting like mad and spouting some earthy dialogue. The grim situations and social hypocrisies are well counterpointed with some great comedic scenes that propelled ‘Up yer bum’ into the national vernacular.

The supporting cast are excellent, from her straight laced and easily embarrassed father to Tom Bell as the sleazy bookie. Lloyd does great to tread the thin line between mental and annoying and sexy and unsettling. The film ends on a largely optimistic note and given how much we’ve invested in the charater you’d hope so. It’s a shame that Lloyd didn’t go onto better things but at least she did more fine ‘W’ work in the soon to be reviewed ‘When Saturday Comes’.

Best Bit : Tea room showdown
‘W’ Rating : 18/23

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