Title: The Romantic Englishwoman
Country: France, UK
Director: Joseph Losey
David de Keyser
My very first contact with Joseph Losey’s canon is this film adapted from Thomas Wiseman’s eponymous novel, the reason why I selected this one purely because of its cast, namely for Glenda Jackson, the two-times Oscar winner, whose work has eluded me until now, but the film itself turns out to be a very disappointing misfire.
Speaking of the cast, Glenda Jackson has her charismatic dignity in almost every scene although regularly shoehorned between Berger’s perpetual snug grin and Caine’s perpetual sullen stare, and eventually cannot save the film from the mire of a psychological drama swamped with behavioural absurdities and non-consistent narrative. The fierce-looking wife with a bob cut and perfectly trimmed fringes, who is discontent with her middle-class lifestyle (her writer husband has immersed into the writer’s block when writing a film script and becomes paranoid about her adultery in her solo trip to Baden-Baden), tries her luck to elope with a self-claimed German poet (whose real identity is only hinted by smuggling small-time drugs and cruising of elderly lonely-hearts), whom she has met before in Baden-Baden, but is there a fling between them in their previous encounter? The film never answer the question, a corny exploit being overused here.
Richard Harley’s lyrical string score has stolen the thunder since more often than not, I am very much a visual observer than a sonic perfectionist. Also I quite prefer the slowly panning camera in carefully constructing a hunter and prey game in the beginning part in Baden-Baden to the dreadful and ostentatious meandering in the labyrinth of feigned sentimentality, claiming inane quips like “Englishwoman is the most romantic” (Berger’s German accent is a major buzz-killer), I hope someone else could be fortunate enough to fully digest all the hocus-pocus and be grateful towards this ill-fated film adaption.