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High Season Movie Review

shaw bisset peploe vase

Admirers of Jacqueline Bisset will be pleased at the fact that the actress has finally been cast in a well-above-average movie, High Season. This fine comedy is the first feature directed by writer Clare Peploe, who works with husband Bernardo Bertolucci. It's about survival on a Greek island, which is not the same as survival on Skid Row. The scenery is gorgeous enough to make anyone forget about finances. Bisset plays a broke photographer who wants to sell a vase she received from her old friend Sebastian Shaw. The buyer is Robert Stephens (1931–95), who definitely has been around the block a few times since he played Sherlock Holmes in 1970. Stephens wants art historian Shaw to claim that the vase is fake. Shaw doesn't mind, especially since the vase is not exactly what it seems to be. But then, neither is Shaw. And neither is the obnoxious English tourist couple who hang around Bisset's house. High Season gets its laughs from what we know about the characters and their relationships with each other. The humor is mostly English, although Irene Papas and Paris Tselios have some good scenes as the Greek mother and son who have to cope with all these weird people. And this group is definitely daffy, in a careless, uncontrived way. At one point, Bisset yells at her artist husband (James Fox) for being too lazy to patch up their relationship problems. Meanwhile, his bed partner casually gets dressed and makes her exit, scarcely noticed by either of them. The film is filled with “hold on now, this is really serious” sequences, which are punctured by a reality that refuses to recognize the finality of any single moment. After all, when was the last time you saw a woman plunge into passionate sex with a strange fellow simply because he fixed the flushing mechanism on her toilet?

1988 (R) 95m/C GB Jacqueline Bisset, James Fox, Irene Papas, Sebastian Shaw, Kenneth Branagh, Robert Stephens, Leslie Manville, Paris Tselios; D: Clare Peploe; W: Clare Peploe, Mark Peploe; C: Chris Menges; M: Jason Osborn. VHS, LV, 8mm

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