HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Relic
Nobody
Now, At Last!
Tales from the Hood
Radio Parade of 1935
Dead
Death at Broadcasting House
Huracan
Ghost Strata
Call to Spy, A
Tailgate
Other Lamb, The
Every Time I Die
Lynn + Lucy
Topsy-Turvy
Honest Thief
Blood and Money
Rose: A Love Story
Antrum: The Deadliest Film Ever Made
Om Dar-B-Dar
Silencing, The
J.R. 'Bob' Dobbs and the Church of SubGenius
Dick Johnson is Dead
Two/One
Cognition
Legacy of Lies
I Am Woman
Alien Addiction
Dare, The
South Terminal
Little Monsters
Yield to the Night
My Zoe
Young Playthings
End of Summer
Times of Harvey Milk, The
Buddies
Threshold
Perfectly Normal Family, A
Ravage
   
 
Newest Articles
Down to the Welles: Orson Welles Great Mysteries Volume 2 on DVD
Herding Cats: Sleepwalkers on Blu-ray
Confessions of a Porn Star: Adult Material on DVD
They're Still Not Sure It is a Baby: Eraserhead on Blu-ray
Werewolves are Real: Dog Soldiers on Digital
Rose: A Love Story - Producers April Kelley and Sara Huxley Interview
Phone Phreak: 976-EVIL on Blu-ray
Living the Nightmare: Dementia on Blu-ray
Becky and The Devil to Pay: Ruckus and Lane Skye Interview
Big Top Bloodbath: Circus of Horrors on Blu-ray
A Knock on the Door at 4 O'clock in the Morning: The Strangers on Blu-ray
Wives of the Skies: Honey Lauren Interview
To Catch a Thief: After the Fox on Blu-ray
Tackling the Football Film: The Arsenal Stadium Mystery on Blu-ray
Film Noir's Golden Couple: This Gun for Hire on Blu-ray
The Doctor Who Connection: Invasion on Blu-ray
Hill's Angles: Benny Hill and Who Done It? on Blu-ray
Big Willie Style: Keep It Up Downstairs on Blu-ray
Walt's Vault: 5 Cult Movies on Disney+
Paradise Lost: Walkabout on Blu-ray
Buster Makes Us Feel Good: Buster Keaton - 3 Films (Volume 3) on Blu-ray
Network On Air: Nights In with ABC 3 - Don't Go Away - I Could Do with a Bit of Cheer Now!
What Use is Grief to a Horse? Equus on Blu-ray
For God's Sake Strap Yourselves Down: Flash Gordon on 4K UHD Collector's Edition
Party Hard: Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure on Blu-ray
   
 
  Private Function, A Scenes From The Class Struggle In Yorkshire
Year: 1984
Director: Malcolm Mowbray
Stars: Michael Palin, Maggie Smith, Denholm Elliott, Richard Griffiths, Tony Haygarth, John Normington, Bill Paterson, Liz Smith, Alison Steadman, Jim Carter, Pete Postlethwaite, Eileen O'Brien, Rachel Davies, Reece Dinsdale, Philip Whileman, Charles McKeown
Genre: ComedyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: The year is 1947 and in Britain, rationing is still in effect, but to cheer the nation up there is a royal wedding soon. Joyce Chilvers (Maggie Smith) and her elderly mother (Liz Smith) are at the local cinema watching a newsreel telling them that although rationing is abided by in the United Kingdom, where it is growing stricter, in France there is a widespread black market in forbidden food. That couldn't happen here - could it? As Joyce plays the Might Wurlitzer for the cinemagoers (with mother refusing to sit anywhere but beside her), her husband Gilbert (Michael Palin) is doing his rounds as he is the small town's chiropodist. At the moment he is in the house of the local accountant, Allardyce (Richard Griffiths), attending to the feet of his wife (Alison Steadman) and there is a meeting being held in the next room with important townsfolk discussing what to do about the upcoming function to celebrate the wedding... a function that needs a lavish meal...

The perfectly, punningly titled A Private Function was the first film screenplay by Alan Bennett, and listening to the crisp dialogue you could hardly mistake it for the work of anyone else. Taken from a story from him and director Malcolm Mowbray, its strength was not so much in its plot but in the build up of detail that made plain the desperation of the era, and the callousness of living the life of the middle class when status was everything. Not one actor seems out of place in what is essentially an ensemble cast, and opening scenes, where Joyce's senile mother has replaced Gilbert's sandwiches with knitting in his lunchbox so she can scoff the food herself expertly sketches in the craving for food that everyone feels: you can almost hear the bellies rumbling.

What the conspiracy behind the function's meal is planning is to fatten and slaughter an unlicenced pig (called Betty), but the food inspector, Mr Wormold (Bill Paterson) is clamping down hard. The fact that he has no sense of taste or smell merely underlines that this joyless man is nothing more than a spoilsport, painting illegal meat green and labelling it "Unfit for Human Consumption". Yet the people he's depriving, that conspiracy, aren't especially likeable either, if anything less sympathetic, being thoroughly snobbish and mean-spirited; none more so than Dr Swaby (Denholm Elliott), a man who is outraged that the new National Health Service will force him to attend to anyone who asks him, including the poor. The only sympathetic one among them is Allardyce, who has grown quite attached to the pig and takes every opportunity to feed it treats.

All this results in great satisfaction when Gilbert, aggrieved that these men have forced him out of his new chiropody establishment which he hoped would have raised his standing in the community, decides to take matters into his own hands. His wife is constantly berating him and complaining that, for example, she has not been invited to the function, so he kidnaps Betty with the intention of slaughtering her. Unfortunately this is easier said than done as Gilbert grows fond of Betty proving that those who eat meat often don't have the guts to kill the animals themselves; that little hypocrisy settles well in the mood of the film. All the while, Joyce nags, and the conspiracy are onto them, but could there be a happy ending? Well, not for Betty, perhaps. The dialogue is superb ("Don't bring feet to the table, Gilbert"), and acid turns from the cast serve to enhance it, but overall the atmosphere is so cruel that it can stifle the laughter. A keenly observed study of British class and aspiration, but it wilts under its own uncompromising and withering gaze. Music by John Du Prez.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

This review has been viewed 3559 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star is the best at shouting?
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Brian Blessed
Tiffany Haddish
Steve Carell
Olivia Colman
Captain Caveman
Sylvester Stallone
Gerard Butler
Samuel L. Jackson
Bipasha Basu
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Paul Smith
Darren Jones
Andrew Pragasam
  Lee Fiveash
  Mick Stewart
Enoch Sneed
  Dsfgsdfg Dsgdsgsdg
   

 

Last Updated: