A Merry War (1997) Poster


User Reviews

Review this title
27 Reviews
Sort by:
Filter by Rating:
Entertaining adaptation, partly spoiled by rubbish ending - contains spoilers
Zagreb-14 January 2002
Warning: Spoilers
This film, based on George Orwell's novel, manages to be entertaining and funny. It centres around a frustrated poet, Gordon Comstock (played by the excellent Richard E Grant (although Grant is a little old to play the role - in the novel Comstock was in his early 30s)) who tires of working for what we would now call "The Man" at New Albion advertising company and quits his successful career in order to persue his first love of poetry, particularly an opus called "London Pleasures". To this end he moves into rented accommodation, owned by a typical 1930s example of the "respectable" middle-class, who, of course, keeps an Aspidistra in Comstock's room. To Comstock, this plant represents all that he is rebelling against.

Comstock struggles through most of the film attempting to get his poems published. He is helped and hindered by his Girlfriend, played by Helena Bonham Carter. She also acts as his conscience, badgering him for his foolishness and his pretentiousness.

Comstock manages to get one of his poems published in the USA and is sent a cheque as payment. He manages, however, to blow most of this in one night and ends said night in the cells, arrested for drunkeness. Thrown out of his "respectable" accommodation for his crime, he moves into very cheap lodgings in a rough part of London and continues his epic poem "London Pleasures"

Whilst living in this squalor, he discovers his girlfriend is pregnant. This is where the movie falls down.

Admittedly, this is a problem with the book. The book has the same ending, but Orwell covered it more realistically. Comstock is forced to confront his responsibility and returns to his old job and gives up on his poetry. In the book, Gordon was loathe to surrender his poetry, but did so for the sake of his woman and child. In the film, Gordon is suddenly converted from idealistic poet to smug middle-class conformist. In the book, Gordon's embracing of the aspidistra was unpleasant but believable and even slightly knowingly ironic. In the film, it is, as above, smug and unlovable. This flawed ending drags down what could have been an excellent film. A shame, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't watch it for the great stuff that precedes it.
7 out of 7 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Engaging, humorous, sophisticated comedy of the highest level
inkblot1131 July 2003
In 1930's London, Gordon Comstock (Richard E. Grant) works in the advertising business as a copywriter. His work is so outstanding that he is one of the most valued employees of the firm. Yet Gordon longs to leave the mundane existence of the average worker and become "a poet and a free man". When one of his poems sells for a reasonable sum, he quits his job to devote himself to writing. However Gordon's girlfriend, Rosemary, is aghast. She had hopes for an impending marriage and a comfortable, middle-class life. When writing full-time proves difficult, Gordon sinks lower and lower in terms of places of residence and fiscal circumstances. Yet, he stubbornly pursues his dream, leaving Rosemary in a most unhappy state. Will Gordon come to his senses and return to the stable existence of the work force and the good graces of his lady love?

This is an absolutely delightful movie that is a joy to watch. The main actors are excellent, the cinematography is outstanding, and the costumes and settings lovely to look upon. The script, based on a George Orwell book, is first-rate and engagingly humorous. There is also a level of sophistication that is as pleasing as it is approachable. Finally, there is a satisfying love story that will please any fans of romantic comedies. In short, this is a movie that should appear on lists of recommended films of the highest level. It is truly worthy of much praise.
15 out of 18 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Lightweight Orwell
paul2001sw-114 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.
13 out of 16 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
See the film first, then read the book!
jancyclops15 June 2003
I went to see the film as I saw parts of it being made. I wanted to see how Woburn Walk could be turned into a road in Hampstead. I liked the film. I wondered why the critics had such a downer on it. Then I read the book and could understand why.

Richard E. Grant was not vicious enough as Comstock and somehow the poverty which Orwell depicted in his book has been cleaned up to the point that you just can't see why Comstock was having so much of a problem. Comstock's arrest has been cleaned up too and the ending was all wrong.

If the film had been released under another name then it would probably have got a smoother ride and only been said to be a pastiche of Orwell's work. If you haven't read the book or seen the film, see the film first.
10 out of 12 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a book of poetry. For ever.
cyanidesweet23 April 2003
I loved this film. It's much more cheerful than the book, but what's wrong with that? Artistic license can be a wonderful thing, and those who wanted it to be 1984 should go and watch 1984. When I watch this, I see Gordon Comstock engaged in a futile battle against his own intrinsic middle-classness. He's a pain at times and the film has endowed the character with more humour than he had in the book, probably so that the viewers understand why his friends don't just leave him to stew.

Grant is perfectly cast as Comstock, and keeps him just this side of bearable. Bonham Carter is equally perfect as Rosemary, the long-suffering girlfriend. Add in an excellent supporting cast and there you have it.

The soundtrack's beautiful, except for the song at the end which just shouldn't be there. The settings are stunning, as they rightly should be. All in all, it's a perfect, witty film and one I will never tire of.
12 out of 15 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Revolting travesty of Orwell
drn510 October 2000
The British 'heritage film' industry is out of control. There's nothing wrong with filming classic novels, but why must they all be filmed by talentless nobodies? This film rips the guts out of Orwell's tough novel, turning it into a harmless, fluffy romantic comedy. 'Aspidistra' may not be Orwell's best work, but no-one who reads it can forget its superb depiction of poverty. Orwell emphasises not only the cold and the hunger, but the humiliation of being poor. In the novel, London is a bleak, grey, cold, heartless city, and Comstock prays for it to be blasted away by a squadron of bombers. But this film irons out anything that might be in any way disturbing, and creates instead a jolly nostalgic trip to charming 1930s London, in which everything is lit with shafts of golden sunlight, and even the slums of Lambeth are picturesque and filled with freshly scrubbed urchins and happy prostitutes. Comstock's poems about the sharp wind sweeping across the rubbish-strewn streets seem completely out of place in this chocolate-box world. Worst of all is the script's relentless bonhomie, ancient jokes, and clunking dialogue. It's so frustrating because Richard E. Grant is the perfect person to play Gordon Comstock, and the film is packed with great actors. But it's all for nothing. This film made me so angry! Britain's literary history is something to be proud of for its richness, complexity and power. And what do we do with it? We employ bland nobodies to turn it into soft-centred, anodyne pap for people who want to feel that they are 'getting some culture' while they drink their Horlicks and quietly doze off.
17 out of 24 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
An endearing film
Zmajina27 September 2002
If only more films were made with such clever and funny script, lively characters and downplayed irony! Comstock is perfectly embodied by Grant, and it's not hard to participate in his tribulations, as 90% of people have had money troubles and have tried to write a poem at one time or another in their life. I totally disagree with the comments which would like this film to be another Kafka-clone. We've had enough of that!
12 out of 16 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
The Aspidistra has flown - a pleasant travesty of the Orwell book
trimmerb123421 May 2007
How could anyone who had read the book and who had any respect for literature, especially a respected screenwriter such as Alan Plater, turn this story of glum penny-pinched '30's London into 1990's-style standard advertiser's jolly-jumpered "Heritage" golden nostalgia?. Not only did it do violence to the tone of the book, it did violence to its very essence. It does violence too to history - to what it was like to live in London in the 1930's on less than £2 per week. All the more reprehensible as the book was largely autobiographical.

Comstock, a writer, believes that he has talent as a poet but instead is prostituting that talent writing crass advertising slogans in return for money and a comfortable life. This belief that he is wasting his real talent - and his life in this way causes him to attempt to reject the entire world of money, to live in (moderate) poverty and to devote himself to writing poetry. Having rejected "the Money God" he endures the consequences. In the book but not in the film the petty mean realities of poverty in cold 1930's London are spelt out in detail. They weigh him down, make him embittered - and obsessed with the very thing that he wished to escape: Money. His obsession takes the form not of a desire but of an increasing loathing where every kind of failure or slight he suffers is blamed on his lack of money and other people's veneration of it. Comstock's rejection of money makes his life complicated and extremely limited - deciding what each coin in his pocket might buy - can he smoke his single cigarette today or should he to save it for later in the week?

His miserable lodgings are policed over by an ever-watchful landlady who neither allows female visitors inside the front door nor the making or consumption of hot drinks in the room, thus forcing Comstock to find furtive and frustrating ways round the latter and to conduct his romancing of his long-suffering girl friend Rosemary in the streets and public places. Comstock believes the reason Rosemary will not sleep with him is his Lack of Money. Worst of all - for him - he finds that having rejected money and enduring the consequences, he cannot even make any progress on his supposed life's work - his poetry.

The book is in many ways glum. Comstock, as the author notes, becomes complaining and miserable. Comstock describes himself as "moth-eaten". His family had sacrificed all so that he alone would get a "good education" and thus consigned themselves to a life of meanness on his behalf. Comstock's consequent perverse decision to give up "a good job" thus distressed them and gives him occasional twinges of guilt.

A large facet of the book is the way that the reader to some extent comes to share this mean and rather humiliating life. The glumness though is relieved by the self knowledge and perspective of the author making it at times wryly comical.

Comstock is not a Socialist. He has no positive vision, only the negative one of the corrupting effects of money and even those Orwell portrays as being obsessive. His wealthy friend Ravelson, a Marxist, tries to enlist him without success. Orwell, in real life from a middle-class comfortable background himself, chose to lead a life which at best was hair-shirt. At worst had him "Down and Out in Paris and London" and a volunteer in the Spanish Civil War. No other writer in English had quite such a gloomy and masochistic lifestyle.

Comstock chose to work in a badly paid job but will not sponge, he does not accept charity. He has a great deal of integrity especially concerning Art and cannot but be revolted and oppressed by the foolish images and slogans on billboards all around him, some of which he had written: "Corner Table Enjoys his Bovex!" His rather inconsistent scruples and artistic sensibility are a curse not a blessing. The book is presumably Orwell talking about what he felt, experienced and believed then.

This production is pleasant but all that is notable in the book is missing. The instinct for those who respect Orwell's talent (and can endure his glumness) and have any sense of period might well be to throw their copy into the bin baffled at how such a travesty came to be made.

But an excellent BBC TV version was made in the early 1960's starring the late Alfred Lynch and Anne Stallybrass which stayed true to the book. In black and white and studio bound it nevertheless stands head and shoulders above this later production.
5 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
I Could Relate To It
Theo Robertson15 November 2004
KEEP THE ASPIDISTRA FLYING is a novel by George Orwell , a novel that is in many ways the author's autobiography . There's a problem in that since it mirrors the life of a litery giant it becomes sacrilege to modify it , I couldn't help thinking that perhaps the story could have been updated to a very late 20th century setting

On second thought perhaps not since 1930s London being replaced by 1990s LA with the plot centering on a young screenwriter wanting to break into the Hollyloot system does seem like sacrilege even if it would have increased the box office takings considerably , and as it stands I'm sure we can all relate to Gordon Comstock in someway , he is after all a frustrated poet with no money while most of the people who come to these pages are frustrated film critics with no money

That's where much of the enjoyment of this film lies , we understand the fiery but naive idealism and optimism of Gordon as he tries to get his foot inside the publishing door only to be met with frustration . Richard E Grant might be playing a similar role to the one in WITHNAIL AND I but he is fairly good in these self centered type roles

A fairly entertaining film about the hit and miss nature of writing for a living , though perhaps it appeals more to critics than to a mainstream audience
10 out of 17 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Nice trappings and enjoyable (though predictable)
moveebob7 March 1999
Richard Grant is in the advertising business again (this time pre/post WW1) and does a nice job as a conflicted poet versus business man. Helena Bonham Carter reveals a flair for comedy. Very nice settings/photography and wonderful bits by Brit veterans (Liz Smith is particularly amusing) A little slow getting started then it soars.
5 out of 8 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Fatal flaw is lack of charm of the central character
jude234818 November 2006
In spite of sterling work by the supporting actors, and an intelligent script by Alan Plater, this film suffers from a fatal flaw - the lack of charm of the central character/actor. One of the characters describes Richard E Grant's character as "a whining little turd" and unfortunately this sums him up perfectly. There is nothing about him or his performance to make it credible that his girlfriend and upper-class publisher/friend would spend so much time and emotional effort on him. He is rude, arrogant, selfish, self-destructive and thoroughly annoying. The part called for an actor who can make you love him even when he is being a prat - a Ewan McGregor, for example.

All of the witty satire on the class system etc was wasted, thanks to this irritating and thoroughly unlikeable performance. All I wanted to do was shake him and tell him to get over himself.
3 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
A wry look at self-delusion and respectability
DFC-221 July 1999
No one is better at pontificating while poking fun at themselves than the English, and if you enjoy that sort of thing, this movie is definitely worth watching. Along the way you get to sneer at wealth, poverty, capitalists, communists, the bourgeoisie and proletariat, business, respectability, advertising, poetry, bookstores and readers, hardy plants, loathsome but endearing friends, parasitic siblings, impatient lovers, and self-delusion. All of this comes with an intelligent script, quality acting, and personalities you've met before and would like to meet again. A gleeful romp for those who don't take themselves or their ambitions too seriously, who find sadistic humor distasteful, and who tire quickly of nude/bathroom/body fluid jokes.
3 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Dry British Comedy Rocks!
metalrooster2 March 2004
I personally love any film featuring Richard E but this one is some of his finest work. He just has an amazing delivery. Sure the script is a real gem, but only a true actor could pull off the subtle humour of such an intellectual period black-comedy. Keep the Aspidistra Flying addresses two ever present topics; The search for self and art and the unstoppable progression of capitalist society, themes which remain relevant to all of us no matter who or where we are.

For me, thats what makes dry British Comedy so funny, the light hearted attitude in reaction to impossible truths. Keep the british humour flying!
4 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Ergolad25 June 2006
I had high hopes for this film. I thought the premise interesting. I stuck through it, even though I found the acting, save Helena Bonham Carter, unremarkable. I kept hoping my time spent would pay off, but in the end I was left me wondering why they even bothered to make this thing. Maybe in George Orwell's version there is a message worth conveying. If this film accomplished anything, it has inspired me to read Orwell's classic. I find it hard to believe his tale could be as disappointing as this adaption. If the film maker's message is "the mundane life is worth living", well then, they've succeeded. I would recommend this film to no one; 101 minutes of my life wasted.
4 out of 8 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Pretty good. Hopeful ending.
jeremy321 April 2007
Warning: Spoilers
I haven't read the Orwell novel, so I don't know if it is true to the story. I found this movie entertaining, however. A very promising advertising drafter/marketer decides to turn down a promotion and opts to be a poet. Richard Grant's Comstock is reminiscent of many idealists, who think that one should pursue their dreams no matter how unrealistic they are. Comstock hopes to escape his hopelessly middle-to-upper class World, where the apidistra plant represents the horrible repressiveness of this environment. Rosemary (Helena Bonham Carter) plays an anti-romantic woman, which is refreshing. In the Victorian novels the woman falls for men of little promise unconditionally. In this story, she leaves him for a time, believing that he has become too ridiculous. Comstock, however, finds himself in a working class neighborhood, working at a lowly bookstore. He is entranced by the "free spiritedness" of the working class. There are no strict rules to abide by, and people are more honest. However, a painful lesson in poverty convinces Comstock to go back and reclaim his old job. Comstock has found his peace with the World, and is happy to be part of the middle class World. I found this very hopeful, in our era of the declining middle class. The movie made clear that in England, the middle class educated feel very isolated and alienated. It was an interesting movie.
2 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Off beat and very comedic Brit Comedy.
jervus7 April 2002
Richard Grant steals the show. Provides for more than its share of plot twists and wacky humor. I loved every moment. Helena Bonham Carter in lovely. To watch someone descend from relative prominence as an ad copy writer, through the legal system and from thence to life on the other side of the track. Ultimately all is well in the end.
2 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
The Money-God
JamesHitchcock10 January 2017
Gordon Comstock is an aspiring poet and a successful advertising copywriter in 1930s London. He is good at his job and earns a decent middle-class income, but is dissatisfied with what he sees as a materialistic lifestyle and quits the firm to concentrate on writing poetry. He finds, however, that he cannot make a living from poetry alone, is forced to take a much less well-paid job working in a bookshop and spirals down into poverty. About the only thing which saves him from complete destitution is his ability to exploit the generosity of his wealthy publisher Ravelston, of his long-suffering girlfriend Rosemary and of his equally long-suffering sister Julia. And then something happens to shock Comstock out of his nostalgie de la boue.

The film was based on George Orwell's novel of the same name. Orwell's title, playing on the Labour Party anthem "The Red Flag" with its promise to "keep the red flag flying here", refers to the aspidistra, a type of house-plant popular in the late nineteenth century which by the 1930s had become associated with a sort of shabby-genteel lower-middle-class respectability. (Orwell's contemporary H E Bates was to use the symbol of the aspidistra in the same way in his "An Aspidistra in Babylon"). For some reason the film was released in the United States under the meaningless title "A Merry War" which may have misled some viewers into thinking it was a wartime movie. (It isn't; Orwell's book was written before war broke out). About the only "war" involved is Comstock metaphorical war against middle-class values and the worship of the "money-god", and there is little that is merry about this particular conflict.

When I first saw "Keep the Aspidistra Flying" in the cinema in 1997, I enjoyed it a lot more than I did when I watched it again recently. The reason is, almost entirely, that I have now read Orwell's book, something I had not done so in 1997. I can therefore understand some of the criticisms which were made of it at the time. Orwell's social satire is more trenchant than anything which appears in this film, and his depictions of poverty more unsparing than the prettified, sentimentalised version of working-class life which we see here. Orwell's Comstock (who may have been partly a self-portrait) certainly has his perverse, self-destructive side, but we also feel the sincerity, and at least to some extent the justice, of his criticism of middle-class society and its money-worship. In the film, Comstock's protests against materialism never seem anything more than perverse, self-indulgent and quixotic.

It is a pity that the film was not closer in spirit to Orwell's novel, because Richard E. Grant would in many ways have been an ideal choice to play Gordon Comstock as Orwell envisaged him. Indeed, he is not bad in the film which we actually have, but could have been far better in a better film. Other good contributions come from Helena Bonham Carter as Rosemary, sweet and pretty without being too sexy, and from Julian Wadham as Ravelston, a wealthy champagne socialist who tries to assuage his guilty conscience about his wealth by fretting about the plight of the unemployed in Middlesbrough, even though he is not sure where Middlesbrough actually is. (In the novel Ravelston had the first name Philip; here for some reason it is changed to Conrad). Ravelston's girlfriend Hermione also claims to be a socialist, although in her case that claim is somewhat weakened by her insistence that "poor people smell". There are also good cameos from John Clegg as the eccentric Scottish bookshop-owner McKechnie and Barbara Leigh-Hunt as Comstock's landlady Mrs. Wisbeach, the aspidistra-wielding incarnation of everything he dislikes most about the middle classes. Overall, in fact, the film is not a bad one. I just felt it represents a missed opportunity. 7/10
1 out of 1 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
It's only okay, but then the book is no masterpiece
lexo177029 August 2008
I have no idea why the US and New Zealand versions of this movie were retitled 'A Merry War' - it's not set during wartime, and it's not especially merry. George Orwell's original novel is far from the greatest work of that great writer, but it's a sardonic and gritty look at bohemian poverty. The movie is much the same. Richard E. Grant does a fine job as the chronically self-defeating anti-hero, a character who more or less defines the phrase "his own worst enemy" - Gordon Comstock is one of those characters who basically needs a good smack in the mouth, but he never actually gets one. Helena Bonham-Carter does some quietly expert sweeping-up as Rosemary, Gordon's girlfriend, one of Orwell's less boring female characters. Julian Wadham is fine as Gordon's affluent editor friend Ravelston. The film never really gets to the bottom of Gordon's puritanical hatred of money and success, but it's not screenwriter Alan Plater's fault, because neither does the book. All in all, an entertaining piece of guardedly feel-good period drama.
1 out of 1 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Mostly very well made; reservations with the ending
Andy-29615 November 2006
Warning: Spoilers
A good version of a not very well known book by George Orwell. In 1930s London, Gordon Comstock (Richard E. Grant in a not very impressive performance) stars as a copy writer in an ad agency (where he is considered among the best in the trade) who leaves his job in order to pursue his vocation as a poet. That turns out to be a very bad decision, not least because his poetry doesn't arise from mediocrity. His life goes downhill after leaving the ad agency, at least from a material point of view, moving from one bad form of housing to another worse, until he finishes in what 1930s Europe would be the equivalent of a slum. His long suffering girlfriend, Helena Bonham-Carter, accompanies him, but up to a point, and in the end, it is she who makes him go back to his senses. Comstock final embracement of bourgeoisie conformism (which is in the book) leaves something of a bad taste (also, the movie is surprisingly pro life on the issue of abortion). Something I have found also surprising: It has been said that Orwell turn away from the left after his disillusionment with the Stalinist repression of the trotskyites during the Spanish civil war, but this book was written before that war, and Orwell already happily punctures more than a few of the left's sacred cows.
2 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
enjoyable but slight
gilleliath30 September 2019
This is the kind of small British movie in which you recognise the faces of all the supporting cast but can't remember where from. Richard E Grant more or less reprises his tightly-wound, neurotic persona from Withnail and How To Get Ahead In Advertising. The script by Alan Plater is okay, maybe trying a bit too hard for wisecracks; the score by Mike Batt (of Wombles fame?) suggests he wished he'd been given a Jane Austen movie. The whole thing is a bit too glossy, in fact. It doesn't capture the gleeful squalor of the book, nor does it succeed in explaining Comstock's actions: it's not simply that he wants to be a writer, he wants to drop out of the rat race and reject capitalism and respectability altogether, but finds it a lot more difficult than the thought. In missing this, the film misses the point of the story-less story and becomes just a well-made kitchen sinker.

I don't blame the Yanks for re-naming it - it's not the best title; but they surely could have come up with something better than 'A Merry War', which makes it sound as though the focus is Grant's bickering with HBC - thus missing the point by an even wider margin.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Light entertainment
leveller0@yahoo.com25 July 2006
This is a very pleasant film that floats through the plot of George Orwell's novel of the same name. In an nutshell, the hero, George Comstock tries to live as a socialist and refuses to conform to middle-class society, as represented by the aspidistra! This begins with him leaving his job, and into an uncertain poverty.

All the main characters are well-acted, the cinematography and costumes are excellent at portraying London in the 1930s. The dialogue is nothing exciting, and the plot unmemorable, but the film works as an entertaining diversion.

Compared to the book of course, it lacks any of the seriousness. As others have said, the poverty to which George descends to is not really touched upon. However, that is not a criticism of the film - I think the director's intention was to make a more light-hearted version, in which case I'd agree it was disingenuous of him to keep the same title for the film. In the end, I'm surprised there was sufficient interest in making a film of it, and more surprised at how faithful it stays to the main plot elements.
1 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
not bad, but nothing new.
Embley2 July 2000
this seemed an odd combination of Withnail and I with A Room with a View.. sometimes it worked, other times it did not. tragedy that they changed the name for the US release though.. Keep the Apidistra Flying is much better than the nothing title A Merry War. acting was okay, script was okay.. overall it was a mediocre film..
1 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Never read the book, enjoyed the movie.....
doghouse-818 August 2001
I love British movies set in the 1930's, and I am a big Helena Bonham-Carter fan, so I found watching "A Merry War" to be a very enjoyable experience. The Gordon Comstock character is a little annoying in the beginning, but he grows on you as the movie progresses. I thought the supporting cast of characters (especially the publisher and his snooty mistress) were all great. Since I never read the book this movie was based on, I had no preconceived notions regarding the plot.....I just accepted it for what it was and really liked it. 8/10
1 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Keep the Aspidistra Flying
jboothmillard2 May 2007
Warning: Spoilers
I have always liked a few British independent films, and I have to say this is a really good one, adapted from the semi-autobiographical novel by George Orwell. Basically Gordon Comstock (a terrifically posh and funny Richard E. Grant) is a copywriter at an advertising agency, mostly supporting the product Covex, and when he is offered a higher rank and pay, he decides to quit because of good response to his poetry writing. So he starts working in a book store, while he is trying to write the perfect poem and get some recognition and pay. His girlfriend Rosemary (an enjoyable Helena Bonham Carter) does still love him and want him to succeed, even with all his many faults. When he does get a big profit from a book, he just waists it on celebrating. This over-ambition and self-admiring will be his downfall as he becomes forced into poverty. He ends up having to get a cheaper room, and another lower pay library. There is a happy ending though when he finally decides to go back to the advertising company, and his poetry still comes to use, he gets married to Rosemary, and he has a baby coming! Also starring Julian Wadham as Ravelston, Shakespeare in Love's Jim Carter as Erskine, Harriet Walter as Gordon's sister Julia Comstock and The Royle Family's Liz Smith as Mrs. Meakin. The highlights are the moments with Grant and the Aspidistra plant, and the end song "Tiger in the Night" by Colin Blunstone is very pleasant. Very good!
1 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Dreadfully Fantastic
theboabie1 December 2005
I am no fan of George Orwell but this is definitely his most worthwhile contribution to the world. 'Keep the Aspidistra Flying' is ultimately an honest and revealing allegory for Orwell's life as a champagne socialist.

Whilst wry, upbeat and iconoclastic for the middle class audience, it gives away Orwell's somewhat patronizing outlook on social class: "I 'ave a baff Once a year whevva I need one or not!". Despite my desperate dislike of what he stands for Comstock is an attractive character and the film dreadfully amusing! Wonderfully acted out by Richard E. Grant as per his brilliant self.

Perhaps the best of a bad author.
1 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
An error has occured. Please try again.

See also

Awards | FAQ | User Ratings | External Reviews | Metacritic Reviews

Recently Viewed