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Wetherby
     

Wetherby

Director: David Hare

Cast: Vanessa Redgrave, Ian Holm, Judi Dench

 
In a novel and intriguing approach to storytelling, director David Hare has created an engaging mystery and human drama that ostensibly focuses on an innocent dinner party but is really about something else. Jean Travers (Vanessa Redgrave) is an old-maid schoolmarm who has lived in Wetherby, a small town in northeastern Yorkshire, all of her life. She is still haunted

Overview

In a novel and intriguing approach to storytelling, director David Hare has created an engaging mystery and human drama that ostensibly focuses on an innocent dinner party but is really about something else. Jean Travers (Vanessa Redgrave) is an old-maid schoolmarm who has lived in Wetherby, a small town in northeastern Yorkshire, all of her life. She is still haunted by memories of a passionate love affair with a young man who was later murdered while on military duty in Malaysia nearly 35 years ago in the '50s. One evening, Jean invites a group of friends over for dinner -- the group is comprised of two couples, one of which spends the time sniping at each other. A young man, John Morgan (Tim McInnerny) is also in the dinner party. Jean thinks he was brought along by one of the couples, the couples, in turn, believe he was invited by Jean -- in short, he is a total stranger that everyone assumes is a friend of someone there. As the evening progresses, political topics of the moment are brought up and chewed over: Margaret Thatcher, Richard Nixon and other notables of the era are discussed, and various comments are made on the laziness of today's youth. The dinner party ends, and the next day John Morgan comes back to visit Jean. While she is in the midst of preparing tea for them both, he takes out a gun and kills himself. The shock waves from his senseless act later reverberate among the dinner-party guests, as the police investigator tries to piece together the man's background and the dinner party itself. Questions are raised about his motives, and viewers see the dinner party again, moment by moment, in an entirely new light.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide
Wetherby, David Hare's directorial debut, carries out its elliptical narrative with such artistry and high-mindedness, a viewer might be tempted to overlook its somewhat ponderous conclusion. Vanessa Redgrave leads a stalwart cast that lends the film instant credibility, and while this has the effect of conditioning viewers for great things, it shouldn't dull their expectation for clear resolutions. Even in such a smartly unconventional mystery, the clues and fragments need to pay off in more satisfying ways than they do. Ian Holm, Tom Wilkinson, and Judi Dench join Redgrave in lending their considerable talents, but it's lesser-known Tim McInnerny who commands the viewer's attention, establishing a chilling undercurrent the moment he randomly shoots himself in the home of a horrified professor (Redgrave). As Jean Travers pieces together why she's been targeted as a witness -- perhaps knowing more than she's letting on -- the film dips seamlessly in and out of the present, the recent past, and the distant past. The director, better known as a playwright, has done well to make Wetherby more than just a filmed play. The scenes are composed dynamically, some of them entirely free of dialogue, or even sound. Paradoxically, it's Hare's content that can be a little fuzzy. The last days in the distraught stranger's life are rich with foreboding, but these sections are overshadowed by Hare's ill-advised preoccupation with Jean as a schoolgirl involved in an affair. The thematic similarities between the distant past and the present are quite strained, but Hare asserts their interconnectedness by revealing the climaxes of both storylines in a sequence of alternating shots. This only underscores the false significance assigned to their relationship. Wetherby is the unusual case of an acclaimed writer showing more fitness with form than ideas. Still, he succeeds enough at both to earn high praise.

Product Details

Release Date:
11/16/2004
UPC:
0037429200926
Original Release:
1985
Rating:
NR
Source:
Homevision
Region Code:
1
Time:
1:43:00

Special Features

Closed Caption; New digital transfer enhanced for 16:9 televisions; Director's introduction; Actor's selected filmographies & bios; Essay by author and critic Brian McFarlane

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Vanessa Redgrave Jean Travers
Ian Holm Stanley Pilborough
Judi Dench Marcia Pilborough
Stuart Wilson Police
Marjorie Yates Verity Braithwaite
Tim McInnerny John Morgan
Suzanna Hamilton Karen Creasy
Joely Richardson Young Jean Travers
Katy Behean Young Marcia
Ted Beyer Police Sergeant
Patrick Blackwell Actor
Ian Bleasdale Neurotic Teacher
Howard Crossley Police
Penny Downie Actor
David Foreman Young Malay
Christopher Fulford Arthur
Matthew Guinness Randall
Brenda Hall Actor
Robert Hines Jim Mortimer
Mike Kelly CID Policeman
Bert King Mr. Mortimer
Jonathan Lazenby Boatman
Trevor Lunn Pretentious Parent
Richard Marris Sir Thomas
Peter Martin Helpful Parent
Norman Mills Drama Teacher
Guy Nicholls Mr. Varley
Stephanie Noblett Suzie Bannerman
John Robert Page
Nigel Rooke Page
Vanessa Rosenthal Pretentious Parent
Marjorie Sudell Actor
Paula Tilbrook Mrs. Mortimer
Diane Whitley Actor
Tom Wilkinson Roger Braithwaite

Technical Credits
David Hare Director,Screenwriter
Nick Bicât Score Composer
Tony Britten Score Composer,Musical Direction/Supervision
Jane Greenwood Costumes/Costume Designer
Hayden Griffin Production Designer
Stuart Harris Cinematographer
Lindy Hemming Costumes/Costume Designer
Jamie Leonard Art Director,Set Decoration/Design
Patsy Pollock Associate Producer
Simon Relph Producer
Jeanne Richmond Makeup
Chris Wimble Editor

Scene Index

Side #1 --
1. Open [2:42]
2. Dinner [2:51]
3. Wasted Potential [3:21]
4. Extra Place [3:01]
5. Such Happiness [4:26]
6. Investigation [6:58]
7. History [4:33]
8. Shared Solitude [5:46]
9. Suicide [3:55]
10. The Visitor [4:59]
11. Victim [4:51]
12. Spooked [6:41]
13. First Meeting [5:35]
14. Obsessed [8:17]
15. A Subplot [9:48]
16. Feeling [4:46]
17. Goodbye [3:46]
18. Present Past [9:05]
19. Clean Slate [5:08]
20. End Credits [2:16]

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