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STUDIO Entertainment One
RUNNING TIME 128 Minutes
In this tense WWII-era thriller, Anne Keyes, a young woman from a powerful, political family, stumbles upon sinister evidence relating to a secret Nazi conspiracy plot. As war rages throughout Europe, Anne discovers the dark truths hidden by her family and becomes caught in a deadly web of lies and betrayal.
Stephen Poliakoff (director), Romola Garai, Bill Nighy, Julie Christie, David Tenant, Christopher Lee, Eddie Redmayne and Juno Temple
A politically based story about the British aristocracy who were willing to make a deal with Hitler in order to maintain peace.
The cast of Glorious 39 is one of the greatest ensemble casts I have seen assembled. The acting is truly top notch. The film itself though struggles to build the tension and finds itself more on the slow and boring than the methodical and gripping. I have a compelling need to compare it to last year’s Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, told from a non political girl with a slower pace and less tension. Basically Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy with all the fun stuff taken out.
As an extension to the main story that takes place in 1939, we also have a current tale with two old men being questioned by a young relative. They explain that the main character was adopted and treated differently than her blood siblings. This entire storyline could have been trimmed (except for the adoption theme) without the main plot suffering, but it does award some screen time with cinematic film legend Christopher Lee. This alone merits the bookends.
The second the setting switches to 1939 life overflows from a lavish outdoor castle and some great cinematography that gives some additional life to landscape. The young inhabitants are actractive and abundantly full of life. David Tenant imagines a large audience to hear his unpopular opinion of dislike towards Germany and Hitler. Romola Garai, Eddie Redmayne, Juno Temple and Charlie Cox play joyfully along until dinner with the folks begins. Bill Nighy, Jeremy Northam and my favorite nurse of the 80s Jenny Agutter are introduced to make this a full blown star studded ensemble piece. Tenant holds the attention as the outspoken youth that won’t back down to the more established and refined adults. When his character commits suicide the journey begins.
Poliakoff is a very large name director in Britain, whose previous work helped establish Jeremy Northam, Clive Owen and Miranda Richardson among others. Every frame his actors use on the screen could be used as an example of great acting. If this film was all about the interactions of the characters it would be gold. It is this that still maintains the film as above average. Every single performance in this film could be considered award worthy. My issues were with how long every event took, but not the impact of the events.
I have never really paid too much attention to Romola Garai before this film. I will be on a lookout for anything else she appears in as she dominates her screen time. Her subtle changes assist to illustrate how scared her character was. Every event heightens her fear and makes her react differently. Her tone at the beginning of the film is carefree, but is strained by the end. Her eyes emit a tiredness that the strain is causing her. She acts against some strong performers and never once is she overpowered. She alone is reason enough to watch this film.
Unfortunately performances alone don’t carry a film. The story is meant to be a political thriller. What it actually became was a painstaking crawl through a very interesting topic. In the U.S., there is very little ever mentioned about the Hitler support the Brittish aristocracies had clung to. The idea that they were willing to kill their own to attempt to avoid war is something unfathomable.
At a massive 128 minute runtime, this film could be considered a methodical execution of political intrigue. I found the time to be too lengthy for the amount of development in the film, and the plot too stretched to be as effective as it could have been. Even so, there are rarely as many great performances in one work of art.
The Bluray has a great transfer that maintains the beautiful scenery from the film. There are more interviews than most people will ever watch, though they prove to be a great source about the character development the actors had. There is also the normal Behind the Scenes featurette and the trailer.
Out of a Possible 5 Stars