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  Gregory's Two Girls The Weight Of The World
Year: 1999
Director: Bill Forsyth
Stars: John Gordon Sinclair, Dougray Scott, Carly McKinnon, Maria Doyle Kennedy, Martin Schwab, Hugh McCue, John Murtaugh, Fiona Bell, Dawn Steele, Gary Lewis, Kevin Anderson, Matt Costello, Jane Stabler, Stewart Preston, Jonathan Hackett, Bruce Byron
Genre: ComedyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: Gregory Underwood (John Gordon Sinclair) is now a schoolteacher in his thirties at a Scottish secondary school, but his enthusiasm with instilling his classes with a questioning way of looking at the world and not being content with what is spoonfed to them by the powers that be is somewhat tempered by his social ineptitude. Not to mention a crush he has on one of his sixteen-year-old students, Frances (Carly McKinnon) which he can barely admit to himself and is hampering his possible relationship with the music teacher, Bel (Maria Doyle Kennedy)...

Returning to his most famous film should have been welcomed with open arms by the fans of director Bill Forsyth, but it didn't work out that way when Gregory's Two Girls found him with other matters on his mind than pure nostalgia. It was a brave move to consciously resist harking back to the plot and themes of Gregory's Girl, but not one which paid off at the box office, or in the reaction that it garnered, and sure enough the first half hour of this would be enough to put off even the staunchest admirer of the first movie, opening as it did with Gregory having an erotic dream about Frances.

Even after that, we were being presented with some hard to digest politics about American Imperialism and the exploitation of the Third World that did not sit well with the bumbling lead character, still nevertheless played with the same charm by Sinclair, and you would be wondering what the hell this had to do with Chic Murray playing the piano or horizontal dancing. After a while, if you were not utterly turned off and deeply missing all the other people who populated Gregory's world from before, there was a chance you might - just might - settle into the film's uncertain procession of self-conscious comedy and finger wagging themes of self-improvement and taking on pressing issues.

Yet it was as if Forsyth had never seen Sullivan's Travels, or if he had forgotten its lesson, where a creator of comedies successful the world over decides to make his serious artistic statement and falls flat on his face until he realises his comedies were statement enough and he didn't need to hit his audiences over the head with the worries of the world, as they got enough of that in their everyday lives. Here it was enough of a humorous piece to generate a few laughs of the variety that reminded you of the talent behind the camera, but the burden he placed on an essentially sweet and naive character was too much for Gregory to bear.

Take the old schoolfriend who re-emerges in his life: Fraser Rowan (Dougray Scott). Who? you may well ask, as he wasn't in the previous movie, but here is offered up as all that's hypocritical about big business that engages in underhand dealings away from the public eye, for Fraser is the head of a computer company who employs a charity programme for the disadvantaged as cover for his torture devices sold to their governments - with the blessing of the Western authorities. Whatever the truth of that in real life, it was an awkward fit with the world of Gregory as he is persuaded to turn activist by idealist Frances and spy on Fraser's company, as all the while he has to face up to the terrors of grown up relationships with Bel, which should have been more promising but was poorly developed as well. Still, after a while with this story, it did settle down, and you could see where Forsyth was coming from, but with a non-ending and the certain ruination of Gregory's life the result, you'll wish he had found a better outlet for his conscience, both political and (yikes!) sexual. Music by Michael Gibbs.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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Bill Forsyth  (1946 - )

Scottish writer and director whose gloomily whimsical comedies brought him worldwide recognition. Starting as an industrial filmmaker, he made the no-budget That Sinking Feeling which got him noticed enough to make the classic Gregory's Girl. This led to the similarly well-crafted and heartwarming Local Hero, and the less successful but no less enjoyable Comfort and Joy. Forsyth moved to America for his next films, quirky drama Housekeeping, crime comedy Breaking In, and ambitious but misguided Being Human, then finally returned to Scotland, and his first big success, with ill-received sequel Gregory's Two Girls. He has now retired from directing to concentrate on writing.

 
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