For 16 years Miss Bentley has been spending April at an elegant hillside villa on Lake Como. This year, 1937, her London society artist father has recently died and the only other ...
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For 16 years Miss Bentley has been spending April at an elegant hillside villa on Lake Como. This year, 1937, her London society artist father has recently died and the only other English-speaking guests are brash Americans. Then Major Wilshaw arrives. He suggests they meet for cocktails and Miss Bentley stands him up -- not even thinking about it -- as she helps the new nanny of an Italian family settle in. Miss Beaumont, a tall, young American who has dropped out of finishing school in Switzerland, is bored and finds some amusement in flirting with the major, whose libido is awakened for the first time since before the great war. And Miss Bentley now finds more about the major to admire than his ears.Written by
Dale O'Connor <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Miss Beaumont's name means 'beautiful mountain'. This is in reference to the considerable height difference between Beaumont (Uma Thurman) and Major Wilshaw (Edward Fox). See more »
When Miss Bentley is listening to the BBC broadcast it reports a meeting between "M.P. [Member of Parliament] Winston Churchill" and German foreign minister Ribbentrop over German demands that, if not granted, would lead to war. The movie takes place in April 1939, and Churchill was not prime minister until May 10, 1940, and not yet a member of Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain's cabinet until September 3, 1939. While Churchill was still an influential member of the Tory party, it would have been unusual for the German Foreign Minister to confer with him and not Lord Halifax, who was Britain's Foreign Secretary at the time. See more »
The story begins on Lake Como, many years ago during the last fantastic summer before the war.
Returning to the lake has always seemed like coming home. Everyone is so friendly. Everyone is welcome. The Villa Barbianello basks all day long in the lakeside sun, which is hotter than usual for late April.
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And for me, that's what movies are all about, whether it be the Disney Cinderella that was my first movie ever, or this last, A Month by the Lake, that is the place I want to be, in some other realm outside my own experience. And this movie fulfills that desire on many fronts and also kept me guessing from beginning to end.
The performances of the cast were extraordinary in the most difficult of materials, an understated script and the repressive natures of the leads. Vanessa Redgrave -playing Miss Bentley, a beyond middle-age spinster of uncertain age - does much with this. In her outwardly almost flirtatious behaviour you catch the loneliness within, but barely. You determine she does have an interest in pursuing the major, she hears his voice in a dining room and then goes in slow pursuit but practically stands him up on the first 'date' and for no earthly reason we can determine.
Edward Fox - playing Major Wilsaw a retired colonel from WW1 - has the major down pat, the peacocky walk, the clipped sentences, the fear lurking behind the eyes, all embodying the pre-war world of 1937 in Italy on Lake Como.
Uma Thurman, in one of her first 'airings' plays Miss Beaumont, a young woman taking a position as a nanny to a wealthy Italian family staying at the same resort as Miss Bentley and Major Wilshaw who flirts one thinks rather cruelly with the Major leading him on in boredom but does she, we wonder, when the movie takes off in unexpected directions.
Vanessa is sexy and wonderful, you sense there is an unstated other life underlying her character as there is with Major Wilshaw. Uma is the ingénue of a kind, an unmanageable young woman, incorrigible as another era would have it, sent to straighten herself out in Europe far away from disgracing her family in America. She is the innocent abroad, or is she. She assumes an avid interest in the photographs Miss Bentley takes of the young man in love with Miss Bentley (a scene contrived by Miss Bentley) and is astounded at Miss Bentley's capacity to captivate.
It meanders along from there with beautiful cinematography and an unforgettable tennis game. Too slow moving for many tastes. Wonderful eccentric characters - too odd for some - played to the hilt by a stellar cast. 8 out of 10.
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