on October 14, 2011
Sadly, I do believe the level of depth and sophistication may leave at many the impression they have "an empty shell, but beautifully wrapped" as they see Capturing Mary.
This movie is a complex masterpiece.
It takes a brave walk into the dark to realize what the story is about: archetypical figures of struggle. It's all there, especially after the main characters move downstairs into the mansion's wine cellar: downstairs = underworld/subconscious; dark corridors= unknown paths inside the psyche; wine = dimed perception/contents that live in the blur of lose consciousness/ information that frightens even though not making apparent sense/ mental confusion/ chaos set on by dark secrets. Therefore, the personal hell is triggered from the place where figures of the Shadow/ Subconscious emerge, and then "capture" the feminine character. (And some review says it's a "bad title"?) She's keep under its spell/power for too long time, while she is alone with the remains of the darkness and its effects on her career and creativity, that also having an impact in the way she conduces her love/intimate life parallel to her social life in a post-war rapidly changing scenario.
So, there is something sinister and claustrophobic about this story. Something that seemed so right and strong and ready to take flight is interrupted for Mary. After that, it takes her all her life - and finally a sweet, positive masculine figure - to encourage her to review her past, go back to the point where it all started, and try to cast away the ghost.
I bet many women can relate to Mary, in the sense of having experienced imprisonment after the dangerous contact with a predatory figure or circumstance that embodies the power and control of a patriarchal society taking over her inner world.
THAT SAID, THIS MOVIE IS A MUST SEE. Teachers, psychologists and mothers should discuss it at schools, seminars or at home. But if you are inclined to commercial fads such as vampire stories, it's not for you. This is not mere entertainment; this speaks to someone's life enigma solving quests'.
To boot, Maggie Smith, David Williams and Ruth Wilson draw hands down performances that guarantee their places in the Olympus of acting legends.
CAPTURING MARY (annoyingly titled in my opinion) left me wondering what it was really all about; in fact, what everything is about these days. This 2007 British tv offering is about Mary Gilbert (the ever-arresting Dame Maggie Smith), who suddenly stops by an an old London mansion one day. The young man caretaking there, Joe (Danny Lee Wynter), allows her in for a lark. She just wants to be in the house again.
Ms. Gilbert tells her "story" to Joe: a story about her semi-famous youth as a hot new writer, and her encounters with a creepy older man called Greville White (chameleonic character player David Walliams, NOT "Williams", STARDUST, DINNER FOR SCHMUCKS).
As an American and Anglophile, I must pause here and state I do not have any idea what fuels, drives, scares or moves the British mind. In this film, Ms. Gilbert is terribly haunted by a person whom, in my view, is no more than some sort of pusillanimous creep of the type common back then (ca. 1960). In fact, the mysterious, secret agent-like Greville White struck as no more than a somewhat weird cinematic invention...for what reason? Frankly I thought he'd be a blast, exactly as he is in this film, as Mycroft Holmes, Sherlock's older and smarter brother.
Ah, well. Ms. Gilbert regales Joe with the essential story of her life, how it all began when she was in the house at parties, during its heyday when its equally mysterious owner, Mr. Graham (Max Dowler, a vague Johnny Depp lookalike), lived there. Although the eerie Mr. White seemed to be making advances at her, Ms. Gilbert was ultimately revolted by him. What is odd is that she kept seeing him hither and yon, at parties more than a decade later--and he was unchanged, unaged.
My wife began to get so bored she thought White was supposed to be a vampire. My reply was, "Only a vampire of entertainment," meaning I too was getting bored. If not for Dame Maggie, I'd have turned my back on this odd tv film instantly.
Steven Poliakoff (director, THE LOST PRINCE, one of my favorite British tv films) wrote and directed. Perhaps he is after some kind of ethereal inner life ethnogram, or is otherwise seeking the meaning of existence. CAPTURING MARY makes little sense if viewed otherwise, and I still marvel at these boring, talky, theaterish British tv films. Yet there is something about Ms. Gilbert and her lifelong obsession with a masher who keeps his distance. Is this about a hidden, much later yearning on her part?
Watch this film, just for the novelty of its 'exotic' spirit. You may very well ask yourself if this is nothing more than a rambling old drunken woman's memories.
Then again, you may be captivated by it.
on October 13, 2010
Joe , a young guy, is the bored caretaker of a beautiful house in London. Day after day , alone in the empty house he passes his days. Until one day, and dissobeing orders, he lets in an old lady: Mary Gilbert. Maybe because he is bored or just because he likes the unexpected company Joe begins to talk to the lady who, in a reticent way starts telling him a story that happened in that same house many years ago.
Mary Gilbert a newcomer to London has known a small literary success in a Britan that after the war is following , slowly but surely the steps to more modern ways. In one party held at that very same house she meets debonair and glamorous Greville White. The man who knows everyone who should be known.
With a certain gothic flavour she tells Joe how in meeting Greville her life and her once so promising future, went into anonimity after refusing Greville's strange offer.
And so it is....not much happens, not much is told. Poliakoff, who I ussually like, up to a point, has developed nothing but a ruse, a mirage. There is not story, there is nothing. Only a beautiful scenery with consistent performances that led us to nothing.
Simbolism and poetic figures are nice but if there is nothing behind what you got at the end it is a souffle that only wraps air.
There is nothing wrong with the performances. Dame Maggie Smith is wonderful as usual, David Wallians a pleasant surprise and Ruth Wilson plays a convincing Mary. But that is the only thing we can say about.
Maybe Poliakoff wanted to show us the disgusting ways of the upper class in the 50's Britain or simply telling a twisted version of a could be Svengali but unfortunately he does not success. Because we do not know what is he talking about. Are the nightmares of a drunked woman? The confession of her own mediocrity? Or just a tale she tells? We never know , and I guess mr Poliakoff does not neither.
on January 29, 2013
What an utter bore this film is. Why would anyone green light a movie about a talented young writer who is undone in the prime of her life by the mind games of an older, snobbier bore of the British upper class? Nothing happens in this movie except Maggie Smith, who toils valiantly with every facet of her talent to make this sodden mess interesting. Stephen Poliakoff never gives the viewer the payoff that might explain how a gifted writer could allow this dull and uninteresting man to take away her confidence in her talent. It's not a thriller, or even a creepy mind-games sort of thriller? The rest of the cast is nowhere in Smith's league.
If you want to see Maggie Smith in top form try another HBO TV film called MY HOUSE IN UMBRIA. Pass CAPTURING MARY by.