New Movies -
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
Old Movies -
Touki Bouki: The Journey of the Hyena
The Strange Affair of Uncle Harry
Recap: 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 , 2005, 2006, 2007 , 2008 , 2009 , 2010 , 2011 , 2012
The Winter Guest (Alan Rickman) 1997
The Winter Guest, Alan Rickman’s debut feature, outwardly appears to be the sort of Oscar-friendly movie that Lasse Hallström has begun churning out each year for Miramax. It’s set in a picaresque small Scottish town, and is ultimately about people being made to come out of their emotional shells. The big exception here is that The Winter Guest, unlike something like Chocolat, actually manages to be good. The film, which takes place entirely during one wintry day and focuses on four pairs of people, stars Phyllida Law and Emma Thompson, who are mother and daughter in real life, as Elspeth and Frances, a mother and daughter who have a close but troubled relationship. Law’s performance as Elspeth is especially good, and it has the same mixture of stubbornness and tough love that have marked much of Judi Dench’s work lately, but it has none of her condescension. Elspeth is proud to be a member of the community she’s in. She’s not smug at all, even if she’s not afraid to bluntly state what she likes. Her daughter is in a bit of a funk ever since her husband died, and Elspeth’s way of obliquely pulling her back into the world is clearly borne out of love. She’s interesting because she realizes her daughter thinks she is shrill, and uses that shrillness to provoke a response from her daughter. She knows that Frances might resent her antagonizing, but Elspeth believes her daughter needs to start feeling again somewhere, even if it begins with disgust for her mother.