Adrift in Soho
Action / Drama
Adrift in Soho
Action / Drama
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Everyone knows now about the Sixties revolution but it was in London's Soho district in 1950s that the seeds of the Sixties were sown. Where it all began. It was the blast furnace that made it happen. Sometimes not a pretty sight but nothing worth having is borne without the effort of a few looking for change. The 1950s was running its course and a new era beckoned. —Paul Burns.
Uploaded By: FREEMAN
Aug 15, 2021 at 08:14 PM
grade Movie Reviews
A Vivid Glimpse of Fities Soho
Pablo Behrens has expanded the scope of Colin Wilson's novel, adding the element of Free Cinema, the early fifties documentary movement, which prefigured the better known British New Wave. This is a neat move as it allows Behrens to do three things at once: use the 'Free Cinema' documentary techniques to frame the film, 'beef up' the narrative in a historical manner and neatly telescope the story of 'Free Cinema' itself into the film. Behrens convincingly recreates three Free Cinema documentaries: 'Nice Time' (Goretta and Tanner), 'Momma Don't Allow (Reisz and Richardson) and the more famous 'March to Aldermaston' (Anderson and Reisz) and the link to Wilson's original narrative is seamless and rather like Paul Schrader's version of Ian McEwan's 'The Comfort of Strangers', adds to rather than detracts from the original. The two male leads, inevitably, given Wilson's bias towards male characters, take up most of the viewer's attention, though both Caitlin Harris (as Doreen) and especially Emily Seale-Jones (as Jo), give feisty and reasonably nuanced performances. Seale-Jones' character has more to play with than Harris' Doreen who, a little formulaically, falls for Preston in the end. Harry Preston, a reserved, watchful and naive character is engagingly played by Owen Drake. Drake is watchable as the viewer's observer of other people. Greatest praise, however, goes to Chris Wellington (Compton- Street) who gets the extremes of his character perfectly balanced. Compton-Street has to be attractive, charismatic, dangerous, melancholic, a rake and a philosopher, and Wellington gets all of that dead right. Behrens film has a few anachronisms but this is made up for by the general exuberance of the film, attractive editing and vivid cinematography (blood in the sink merging with Wellington's face, golden cobblestones alongside rippling water etc.). The film carries you through the lost world of fifties Soho and leaves you a bit rumpled but happy. Memorable and unusual.
Clever, Challenging and Beautiful - A Welcome Return To Cinema Verite
This is a very clever film. Set in 1959 in London's Soho "village" it chronicles the history of the place from its faded grandeur of the past through its literary centre of excellence during the era of the "Angry Young Men", on into its descent from a gentle Bohemian laissez-faire to the sharper, more harsh culture of drugs and sex, a further contrast between the birth of CND and the exploitative commercialism of TV advertising and ultimately the self-destruction of the spirit of the area.Played out through the eyes of an ingénue writer juxtaposed with a louche, vulnerable and ultimately destructive bohemian actor, it is kept rattling along through the medium of an on-going documentary on people and life, and the film never lets up. With a visual style that emulates the gritty reality of the time, this film informs, challenges and shocks in equal measure. It is fascinating in the traditional art-house style and has moments of exquisite cinematic beauty.The players execute an engaging screenplay effectively, given that in no case, due to the nature of the film, is there any character development beyond that which is before you. These are not easy characters and for me the actors involved, both leads and supporters did an excellent job. But the film is not really about them. They merely serve to point the viewer along the chronicle of the piece.It is different, intelligent, engaging, challenging and miles away from the mainstream churned-out film-making that is so prevalent today. This harks back to the true art of cinema verite and I loved it. Yes, a bigger budget could have provided a bit more padding, but to say that is to miss the point of the film.The title is misleading as it points to the ingénue. But ultimately it is Soho itself that is adrift.
This film is a clumsy, ugly adaptation of a beautiful, vivacious book. The story and characters, Soho circa late 1950's, are infinitely cinematic on the page of Colin Wilson's book yet paradoxically this film is devoid of any discernible atmosphere and the story is delivered with absolutely no performance value, the cast are possibly the most inept ensemble ever seen. The cause of Free Cinema is hitched to the narrative, it seems the director misconstrues this as a license to make a bad film, which is exactly what this sprawling, inarticulate mess is.
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