Hope and Glory (1987, John Boorman)

Director Boorman presents Hope and Glory as a series of vignettes. It opens with England declaring war on Germany in 1939 and goes until the next summer. The film concerns pseudo-protagonist Sebastian Rice-Edwards, who is nine. He obviously does not age over the film’s present action, which is more of a problem with his younger sister, played by Geraldine Muir.

But if Boorman had a story, it wouldn’t matter. He doesn’t. He offers precious, rarely amusing, often trite vignettes. Older sister Sammi Davis is a would-be strumpet who gets stuck falling in love. She often battles with mom Sarah Miles after dad David Hayman enlists. Of course, Miles secretly longs for Hayman’s best friend, played by Derrick O’Connor. Oh, it’s all so touching.

Only, even though the film’s autobiographical for Boorman–he even narrates it (not enough, as Rice-Edwards feels like he’s shoehorned into scenes, not the nucleus of the film)–there’s nothing particularly genuine about it. The performances are terribly affected, especially Davis and Miles. Rice-Edwards is “better” but he’s not good. He certainly can’t carry his scenes and he gets little help from Boorman.

Boorman’s lack of direction for his actors isn’t a surprise. The entire film is oddly off. Philippe Rousselot’s photography is flat, Peter Martin’s music goes for exaggerated melodrama. If it were self-indulgent, Hope and Glory might be interesting, even with all the same problems. But it isn’t. Boorman seems entirely disinterested in the film from the first scene.

1.5/4★½

CREDITS

Written, directed and produced by John Boorman; director of photography, Philippe Rousselot; edited by Ian Crafford; music by Peter Martin; production designer, Anthony Pratt; released by Columbia Pictures.

Starring Sebastian Rice-Edwards (Bill Rohan), Sarah Miles (Grace Rohan), Sammi Davis (Dawn Rohan), Derrick O’Connor (Mac), Jean-Marc Barr (Cpl. Bruce Carrey), David Hayman (Clive Rohan), Geraldine Muir (Sue Rohan), Susan Wooldridge (Molly) and Ian Bannen (Grandfather George).


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