A Merry War (1997)
Lightweight Orwell
14 November 2004
George Orwell wrote 'Keep the Aspidistra Flying' based in part on his own experiences as a young writer, with himself as the object of the satire. It may be hard to think of Richard E. Grant as Orwell, but he does an enthusiastic job of bringing the book's hero to life in this adaptation, portraying an immature, but genuine and brave character struggling to establish what is most important in his life. The setting may be 80 years ago, but director never allows his film to wallow in nostalgia, keeping it fresh instead of overplaying superficial differences from our own era (though the final use of a modern song over the final credits grates). What's a bit more disappointing is the complete absence of politics in the story, odd given Orwell's own passionate commitment; the film's conclusion could be summarised as "if you're middle class, stop worrying and enjoy it", which is not a sentiment I can imagine Orwell endorsing. A lively but slight film.
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