Saturday, June 11, 2016

The Go-Between

The Go-Between; romantic drama, UK, 1971; D: Joseph Losey, S: Dominic Guard, Julie Christie, Alan Bates, Edward Fox, Margaret Leighton, Michael Redgrave

At the beginning of the 20th Century, the 13-year old Leo spends his summer at a Norfolk country house. There he is quickly "drafted" by a noble girl, Marian, to be her secret messenger and deliver her letters to a dashing peasant, Ted, who lives in a nearby farm. Marian's aristocratic family would be outraged of any contact between her and the peasant Ted. When Marian is engaged against her will to Hugh, she runs off to spend one last night with Ted - but is caught by Mrs. Maudsley and Leo. Several decades later, an old Leo is summoned one last time by Marian to deliver a letter to her grandson - who reminds him of Ted.

Awarded with the Golden Palm in Cannes, Joseph Losey's adaptation of L. P. Harley's eponymous novel, "The Go-Between", is a melancholic, gentle romantic drama that speaks about the means and ways of a couple to communicate in a relationship forbidden by norms and traditions. The sole concept where the protagonist, the 13-year old Leo, has to secretly deliver love letters between Marian and peasant Ted (brilliant Julie Christie and Alan Bates) is deliciously sweet and nostalgic, since such a precious way of communication is lost in modern times of telephones and Internet, but a big flaw is that the viewers never get a chance to read what is actually written in them (except in one occasion), and thus a part of their potentials is lost and we are not completely invested in these characters. Losey directs the film in a conventional manner, with several empty walks in the slightly overlong storyline, yet this way he stayed true to the classic, old times he portraits. One of the most powerful moments arrives when Leo delivers a letter to Ted, who reads it and instantly throws it into the oven, only to nonchalantly quickly offer him with some tea heating on the stove, which underlines both his intensity, emotional attachment and anger at Marian for not being able to talk to her directly, but only through a 'proxy'. A little more emotional intensity would have been welcomed, though the film is ambitiously, well made.


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