7:00 PM, 11th August, 2018
Author Juliet Ashton (James) visits the British island of Guernsey in 1946, after receiving a letter from a resident who is part of a reading group that began while the island was under Nazi occupation. Her growing involvement with the reading group uncovers the secrets of their wartime experience.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is a tale of loyalty, courage and connection. Setting aside the film’s slightly twee title, you can be satisfied here in many ways. You won’t be lulling off, as this film provides plenty of mental stimulation amidst warm smiles, such as the meetings of the reading group which have some zippy intellectual moments. This historical drama is also an interesting account of this little-known chapter of British history, and certainly piqued my curiosity to delve further.
The popular ‘80s TV series “Bergerac” was set in the Channel Islands (which Guernsey is a part of) and swung from bucolic to glam, but also hinted at the impact of WWII on the Islands’ populace. This film puts an attractive contemporary spin on this historical period without glossing over the bigger story.
9:13 PM, 11th August, 2018
After seeing the charismatic Vincent Cassel recently in last year’s It’s Only the End of the World, I could hardly wait to see him in his latest role as the titular Gauguin.
In 1891, Paul Gauguin is stifled by the meaningless superficiality of Parisian life. Artifice and constriction permeate every level of society and faraway lands are seen as an exotic untouched Eden. Seeking to break through his ennui, Gauguin travels to Tahiti looking for revitalisation. There, he meets Tehura (Adams), and the interplay of nature and culture move to unexpected depths as Gauguin produces his most recognisable artworks.
Cassel’s portrayal is intense yet tender – peering through tatty curtains of his old world at the idealised unattainable purity. The viewer is left hankering for more of the artist as creator, far more than with sculptor Giacometti in Final Portrait, folk-artist Maud Lewis in Maudie or even Mr. Turner. Tehura as Gauguin’s muse also evolves during, and despite, her time with him.
The outstanding cinematic score by Warren Ellis and Nick Cave complements the Tautira Choir. A beautiful portrayal of the great Impressionist whose work reflected how he saw the world.