Of pies and prisoners #filmreview

When I first started work in a legal role, I was less than poorly paid. So much so I sold my bike to fund a holiday. Even then the best we could manage was a trip to the Channel Islands, specifically Guernsey. The next year with slightly greater wealth, we took on Jersey. We lived on strawberries, tomatoes, sunshine and walking. Oh and a bottle of Blue Nun. Warm. That wasn’t a highlight.

One aspect that has stayed with me, was a book we found – ‘Jersey Under The Jackboot’ – about the Channel Islands’ experiences of being occupied from 1941 to 1945. We visited an underground facility – a hospital I think – built by Russian prisoners, effectively slaves. It was a piece of history that had passed me by. Within those awful details of starvation and tyranny, two things stood out: the resentment felt by many Islanders about being abandoned by the British forces and then not being  immediately freed while the Allied troops moved across Europe following D Day (this a strategic decision), and the sense amongst many Germans that they, too, were, in effect prisoners, especially after D Day.

These themes play a small part in the film we saw last week – The Guernsey Literary And Potato Peel Pie Society – based on a book of the same name.

If it is a relatively gentle exploration of the particular horrors of that period (thus sanitising the more appalling aspects of that time) and if this is an attempt to make a film that feels like it wants to be an exemplar for strong women working against the patriarchy (which I’m not against, only this really wasn’t the obvious vehicle for it and at times the characters reactions did rather stretch credibility as a result) then those are minor gripes that shouldn’t detract from a strong moving story, well-told and superbly acted.

The action follows the fortunes of this eponymous society, formed because such clubs were one way for the locals  to be permitted to meet up. The founder Elizabeth (Jessica Brown Findlay) is missing and her absence is the reason why Juliet Aston (Lily James) cannot initially  persuade the remaining members to have their story told. Juliet’s struggles to uncover a difficult truth is at the centre of the film, alongside her own personal journey of discovery. Loss, in all its human forms, anchors this film.  There’s a nice balance here, too with good Germans and bad Brits although the secondary characters are a trifle cliched.

If you want a decent evening away from Gogglebox and leftover fish pie, then this is for you. And the acting, especially Matthew Goode as Juliet’s much put upon publisher and Tom Courtney and Penelope Wilton as members of the society, is excellent.

PS for my followers who express concern if I fail to mention ice cream we gave the Gelateria opposite the Picturehouse a whirl. Price wise it was better than the cinema whose pricings make the start up capital needed for a space programmes appear within reach of your average butchers boy, but sadly my Madagascan vanilla had some background notes that reminder one of a proprietory drain cleaner, though oddly it was no less edible for all that. Perhaps that speaks to my tastes more than the gelato. I am informed that the caramel chocolate offered no rodding through connotations.

About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published four books - Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle, My Father and Other Liars, Salisbury Square and Buster & Moo. In addition I have published two anthologies of short stories, Life, in a Grain of Sand and Life in a Flash. More will appear soon, including a memoir of my mother's last years. I will try and continue to blog regularly at geofflepard.com about whatever takes my fancy. I hope it does yours too. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
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13 Responses to Of pies and prisoners #filmreview

  1. LucciaGray says:

    Sounds interesting!

    Like

  2. Mary Smith says:

    I enjoyed the book and will try to catch the film. I’ve been researching a woman whose biography I want to write and her father was on Jersey throughout the occupation. She got him out as soon as she could and over to London. He was seriously malnourished and they fed him up on butter, cream and red meat to build him up but, in fact, it killed him.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Darlene says:

    I loved the book and look forward to seeing the movie. I must admit, until recently, I was unaware the channel islands were occupied during WWII. And we do learn a lot about Britsih history in Canada.

    Like

  4. I read and enjoyed the book when it first came out – a slender tome that held a story, told with typical British understatement, of a time that was probably more horrific than revealed. Memory says the author died before the book was finished and her daughter completed the process? I shall see this movie, but probably omit the gelato.

    Like

  5. I’m hoping to see this film, having read the book a few years ago. And I’ve been to the underground facility (you’re right, it’s a hospital) on Jersey that you mention. It was one of the eeriest places I’ve ever stepped inside. It felt as if there were ghosts around every corner…..

    Liked by 1 person

  6. JT Twissel says:

    Drain cleaner ice cream – yum. Sounds like a film worth giving up fish pie for.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Loved this! Liked how your holiday dreams grew and soon you were living it up, relaxing in a deck chair and sipping Blue Nun. This period in history interests me a lot. One day I will write something from this period me thinks.

    Like

  8. Elizabeth says:

    The time my gelato tasted like that, I had them read the ingredients to me. Turns out it included an artificial sweetener which tastes awful to me.

    Liked by 1 person

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