The Guernsey Literary and Potatoe Peel Pie Society, 6.3/10, is the most quintessentially British film I’ve seen all year. As author Juliet Ashton (played by Lily James) connects with an unexpected pen pal, she finds herself uncovering the secrets of a special book club and their famous potatoe peel pie. Set just after World War II, the film explores the history of the occupation of Guernsey by the Nazi Germany and the unique bond between a few individuals and the strength literature gave them in the face of the surroundings.
Now I was pleasantly surprised at this film as admittedly, I was dragged along to see it by my partner. But it did made me think of a struggle of post-war life that I hadn’t previously pondered upon. Obviously winning the war turned into a massive celebration in the capital where the glitz and the glamour was in abundance for those in the upper class, but for many, (and most of which was lower class) simply moving on and forgetting the ones they had lost during the war wasn’t as easy. In particular, when the destruction left behind was a constant reminder you couldn’t turn from. Ashton also struggles with the feeling of not belonging and moving on which is portrayed in an early part of the film when she’s staring at a balloon whilst a party is happening around her. The balloon wants to break free from the others around it and succeeds only to be stopped by a further barrier – the ceiling. Now, does the balloon connote her emotion state of wanting to break free from her situation? Or is it simply a balloon? Who am I to say other than an uneducated film lover with a blog post? But what I can say is that this film is a beautiful story of love, friendship and struggle set in a beautiful setting that you should definitely see even if it isn’t your normal type.
The Leisure Seeker, 6.3/10, is a film that even now, I am still in two minds over. John and Ella Spencer (played by Donald Sutherland and Helen Mirren) take one last trip in there RV – running away from their troubles, their kids and their illnesses. Ella riddled with cancer and John slowly deteriorating with Alzheimer’s, the couple’s perseverance to get to Ernest Hemingway’s residence is only made achievable through their chemistry and sense of humour. Ella is by far the most adorable and admirable wife and her unwavering commitment to her husband goes beyond any means, even when you can see John loose his thought. Without question, Ella is there by his side to support him.
The reason I have struggled to form a solid opinion (and am in two minds with this film) is because every scene where it’s just Sutherland and Mirren, I cried and I laughed. The scenes that featured their children were, for me, a little far-fetched and poorly portrayed. If my sick parents went on the run, I would do everything in my power to find them, not just sit by the phone complaining. I know it seems harsh to let the smallest parts of this film shade my view but this was where this film lost me: I didn’t feel their vague personalities were reflective of their affectionate parents and didn’t reciprocate the love the couple so clearly shared for their offspring. That aside, you should definitely go see this film for a beautiful depiction of true romance – just remember to take the tissues.