It’s hard to imagine this movie being made the way it was in the US. We, as a good, upstanding Christian Nation, have collectively decided that an older man hitting on a young girl is creepy, unless that older man is a vampire. And, despite his obsession with virgins and armadillos, Peter Sarsgaard’s character is not a vampire (Spoilers!). If this film were made in the US, every scene would seem like it was directed by the Old Testament God, each shot casting a disapproving eye on both the rebelliousness of a young woman and the leering lechery of Sarsgaard’s character. Sarsgaard’s appearances would be forewarned by the french horn part from Peter and the Wolf. But in the British, Earth 1 version of the film, we have. . . subtlety?!?! Ambiguity? Complexity?!! This isn’t what I plopped my $9 down for!!!
All gentle ribbing of the American public aside, I do myself agree that a relationship between an older man and a high school girl is creepy. And this movie, as presented, doesn’t seem to think so. Or. . . does it? This isn’t told from the perspective of a judgemental deity, but rather from the point of view of the girl herself. Being offered a ride by a handsome older man isn’t creepy to her, but exciting. But it’s creepy to us. Oh boy, is it creepy. The tension comes from waiting for the hammer to drop, from waiting for the movie to let you in on exactly what kind of movie you’re watching.
It reminds me of the brilliant opening scene from Inglourious Basterds, where the tension just builds and builds. But, being familiar with Tarantino’s oeuvre, I had a bit of an inkling as to where that was going. With this movie, I had no clue.
Another thing that’s great about this movie? If all you know about the film is from what I’ve just written, you would think that this movie is a thriller. And it’s totally not. It’s funny, and heartwarming, and sad, and scary, and, yes, a bit creepy as well. But it really defies all traditional classification.
I absolutely refuse to spoil any of this movie for you. If you’re a fan of Nick Hornby’s work, or just a fan of intimate character pieces in general, this is a must see.