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An Awfully Big Adventure Movie Review

life grant manager charles

After Four Weddings and a Funeral, everyone wanted Hugh Grant to be exactly like Charles, the eligible luvvie he'd played in the film, for the rest of his natural life. That's quite a severe sentence, when you think about it. And then An Awfully Big Adventure came out and Grant suggested (undoubtedly with tongue firmly in cheek) that he was more like evil Meredith Potter than dear, sweet Charles. When Grant's Awfully Big Adventure in his real life made international headlines, all hell broke loose and everyone forgot about this movie. A shame really, because it's an interesting and rather different look at theatrical life. Many who did see Adventure seemed to criticize it from a moral perspective, as if sordid stories ought not to be told by a filmmaker who'd previously lured audiences into theatres with love stories like Enchanted April and Four Weddings and a Funeral. Mike Newell has made all sorts of films (1977's The Man in the Iron Mask, 1980's The Awakening,1985's Dance with a Stranger, 1987's The Good Father, Bad Blood, and Amazing Grace and Chuck, 1992's Into the West, and 1996's Donnie Brasco), so where is it ground in stone that he has to be chained to feel-good flicks? Meredith Potter is no one's idea of a benevolent theatre manager. He's cruel to stage manager Bunny (Peter Firth), who adores him for masochistic reasons of his own; he has sex with one of the young men in the company; and he's altogether snide and insufferable, the ideal crush for 16-year-old assistant stage manager Stella (Georgina Cates). When established actor P.L. O'Hara (Alan Rickman) arrives on the scene, he immediately seduces Stella, who submits but informs him that she loves someone else. O'Hara's just as much of a rake as the theatre manager, but he still has a wisp of a conscience, which gives him an undeserved sense of moral superiority over Potter. Meanwhile, the older members of the troupe wisely distance themselves from all this subterranean nonsense and collect their paychecks in peace. This matter-of-fact look at backstage life is based on a Beryl Bainbridge novel. Express writer Bain-bridge also wrote the acclaimed novel Every Man for Himself about the Titanic disaster; he is unlikely to see THAT book filmed anytime soon, not with all those worshipful Cameron admirers out there who would prefer to see another love story as a sequel. Before this film, Cates had received credits under another name, but she auditioned for Stella, knowing the filmmakers wanted a newcomer. Once she got the role, she played a newcomer on the set and onscreen, waiting until the film was in the can to tell the truth about her actual identity. She got away with it and why ever not? The shelf life of movie actresses is so ridiculously short, all really ought to be fair in love, war, and show business.

1994 (R) 113m/C GB Georgina Cates, Hugh Grant, Alan Rickman, Peter Firth, Alun Armstrong, Prunella Scales, Rita Tushingham, Alan Cox, Edward Petherbridge, Nicola Pagett, Carol Drinkwater, Clive Merrison, Gerard McSorley; D: Mike Newell; W: Charles Wood; C: Dick Pope; M: Richard Hartley. VHS, LV, Closed Caption

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