A very good evening from the Lifestyle Support Guru in my role as a film critic and particularly as a critic of French films – they never fail to disappoint (well, they do, actually, but not as sources of continual surprise)! This afternoon’s offering was no exception – called ‘Portrait of a Lady on Fire’, my Geordie friend and I were looking forward to a film described as ‘elegant and enigmatic … erotic and cerebral, bold and restrained’; we should have realised that too many adjectives had been used and ‘cerebral’ was a dead giveaway – there were going to be lots of long silences and gazing into the distance, which are standard in French films.
Beware – spoilers!
The film started with the ‘heroine’, Marianne, being rowed to a small island to paint the portrait of a young lady, Héloïse, although she wasn’t to let the young lady know this because the young lady didn’t want her portrait painting to be sent off to Milan as a sort of 18th century Tinder application. Before getting to the island, the heroine had to leap into the sea from the rowing boat taking her there because her canvases had fallen into the water – she achieved this despite wearing a full-length dress and petticoats, but it allowed the film director to show her sitting naked in front of a fire drying herself off as she gazed into the distance.
The young lady to be painted had only just come out of a convent (it was never explained why she was in one in the first place) to replace her sister, who had died in mysterious circumstances (by throwing herself off a cliff), on Tinder. (She did say that she had never heard an orchestra playing – remember this for later.) Painting the portrait involved lots of sideways glances at the young lady, then making quick sketches back at the chateau in order to help build up the portrait. The chateau was very bare and understaffed – just one young maid – and the food certainly wasn’t going to earn any Michelin stars or fill you up ready for long walks on the beach gazing into the distance.
It was obvious that Marianne and Héloïse were going to fall in love, especially when the mother went off to Italy for a few days (no coronavirus then) to check how the Tinder application was getting along, thus leaving them alone with the maid (who had a problem of her own) and all three spent one jolly evening playing Snap in the kitchen and another evening helping the maid try to get rid of her ‘problem’ by dangling from the ceiling in the kitchen (along with other methods, but I won’t go into detail). A third evening was spent at a party (all-female, for some reason – in fact, we hadn’t realised that anyone else, male or female, lived on the island) at a bonfire to which the local W.I. choir seemed to have been invited, bursting into song before the young lady’s dress caught fire, hence the film’s title. No harm seemed to be done, even to the dress, which she was wearing the next day on a walk to the beach to do some long-distance gazing.
To cut a long story short, there was a bit of arguing, then the mother came back from Italy (without a face mask) and handed over a brown paper envelope to Marianne, presumably containing payment for the portrait, and a wedding dress to Héloïse and Marianne was sent on her way, having done her job. She saw Héloïse twice more – once in a portrait with a young child by her side, displayed in an exhibition, and then in a concert hall where Vivaldi’s ‘Four Seasons’ was being performed, causing Héloïse’s bosom to heave mightily at the sound of an orchestra. (Personally, much as I like ‘Four Seasons’, it has never caused my bosom to heave in this way, which is probably a relief to all who know me!)
It was felt that a ‘snifter’ was required after this, although we both agreed that there had not been as much eroticism as we’d expected (feared?), but I needed to hear how my Geordie friend had been mistaken for a care home resident by the home’s minister who said that she was ‘doing really well’ – and she is!
A very good evening from the Lifestyle Support Guru! I have just returned from a visit to the cinema, but worry not – I am not about to regale you with another film review; I think the ‘sensual egg’ and the ‘passionate peach’ were enough for now!
However, I will simply say that Kenneth Branagh’s Belgian accent as Poirot in ‘Murder on the Orient Express’ left a little to be desired – and someone please tell me that French-speaking Belgians do NOT pronounce ‘les oeufs’ (eggs) as ‘les urfs’, with the ‘f’ and the ‘s’ being pronounced!
DODO and I arrived at the cinema and joined the small queue for tickets. The friend that we were meeting had arrived early and, just as we got to the head of the queue, came to ask us if we wanted something to drink. The conversation went as follows (try to imagine this all taking place at the same time):
DODO (to ticket seller): Two tickets for the film, please.
Friend: What do you want to drink?
LSG: I’ll have a half of Aspall’s cider.
Ticket seller: Which film?
D (to LSG): Which film are we seeing?
F (to D) What do you want to drink?
L: Mind’s gone blank.
F (to D): Murder on the Orient Express.
D (to TS): Murder on the Orient Express.
D (to F): A glass of wine.
TS: Any concessions?
L (to F): Ooh, I’ll have wine as well.
L (to TS): One member with concession and one concession.
F: One red wine, one white wine, then.
L: No, two the same colour.
F: Two white wines?
TS: That will be £13.
L: No, I’ll have red as well.
F: Two red wines… and a cider?
L: No, just the wine.
TS: Should you two be allowed out without supervision?
How does one answer that?
‘Only on Wednesdays when our carer can accompany us – she’s gone to get the drinks.’
Good evening, Beloved Believers! Here I am, once again, to brighten up your dreary, mundane lives with tales of my exciting, fun-filled life.
Today was an exceptionally full day.
Call Me By Your Name
First, I was invited by Bazza the Friendly Geordie (the BFG) to accompany her to a foreign film and, knowing that these foreign films can be strange, I decided I would look for some reviews for it just so that I would be prepared.
Well, Devoted Devotees, the reviews did not disappoint, and I looked forward to seeing a film
which featured ‘sensual boiled eggs’ and which promised that I would never look at a peach in the same way again. The film was ‘Call Me By Your Name’ and was set in Italy in 1983, with accompanying 80s soundtrack, although I have to say I only recognised ‘Words’ by FR David.
It is the story of a burgeoning (good word, and one I chose myself!) romance between a 17-year-old boy, Elio, and his father’s research assistant, Oliver, an older man, one summer in Lombardy. Personally, I thought Oliver was a bit smarmy, although the reviews called him ‘a golden Adonis’; I would have called him a narcissistic show-off who thought he was god’s gift, but that’s only one opinion, even if it is that of the LSG. We were warned of ‘strong sex’ at the start of the film, which made me wonder if one could warn of ‘weak sex’, and just what that might involve, but I digress…
I looked out for the ‘sensual boiled egg’, described by the Telegraph as ‘an unexpected gush of golden yolk which brought confused emotion to Elio’s face’; personally, I didn’t spot the confused emotion – I just thought that Oliver was a messy eater as far as soft-boiled eggs were concerned.
So, all rested on the peach, so to speak – small shivers of anticipation ran through me every time there was a shot of a peach tree, as I waited to see how my view of a peach could be changed for ever. At last the moment arrived – suffice to say that I may never be able to eat a peach again without certain images coming into my mind. I do not wish to offend your sensibilities by describing exactly what happened with said peach, but it involved the stone being dug out of the middle of it by Elio and the peach then being used by him… and I shall leave it at that. A lot messier than the egg yolk, believe me!
The scenery was beautiful and at times I thought I was, in fact, watching ‘A Place in the Sun’, although they didn’t produce a ‘mystery house’ as the final choice – unnecessary, anyway, as the peach was enough of a mystery!
The BFG enjoyed it, as did I – if I don’t fall asleep, that means it’s a good film.
This was then followed by some ironing (at home, not in the cinema) – ‘How is that exciting?’ I hear you cry. It was exciting because, when I handed DODO his freshly-laundered clothes, he went upstairs to put them away, then rushed back downstairs and said, smiling, ‘I thought I’d left this in Turkey!’, referring to a particular polo shirt which had been waiting to be ironed for ever such a long time… (he returned from Turkey in June…)
And finally today, we went to Derby Night Market where, firstly, DODO was amazed that the LSG managed to walk away from the leather handbag stall without buying anything (the handbags were leather, not the stall, and I already have two purchased from there on previous occasions, which DODO may not have realised…); DODO went off to take some photogenic photos of the cathedral while the LSG went for some refreshment (shopping is exhausting). Interesting to have a glass of wine in a place where one is used to having toast and coffee…
What a lovely day, full of a variety of events, friends (well, one – the BFG), food, drink, eggs, peaches…
Sleep well, Adoring Acolytes