Starring: Sebastian Rice-Edwards, Sarah Miles, Sammi Davis, David Hayman
Director: John Boorman
Summary: A young boy grows up in World War II London during the Blitz
Other Nominations: Director, Original Screenplay, Art Direction, Cinematography
This is one of the most forgotten Best Picture nominees of the 80s, and I can personally see why. The movie is from the perspective of a grade-schooler growing up in WWII-era Britain, and he’s basically a blank slate that observes the world around him. The problem with that is that there needs to be someone we care about, it can’t just be informative about what it was like growing up then: the kid’s mother and older sister are especially annoying and unlikeable, then you have comedy relief Grandpa, and…no one else who sticks out. The performances being generally mediocre doesn’t help much here either.
The other big problem is that the tone is all over the place from scene to scene and even within scenes, although it’s very sentimental at its core. For instance, the following three scenes happen right after one another: we’re at a department store where one woman admits she’s been cheating on her husband (played mostly serious), while our main character boy walks in on girls undressing played for light effect; we then have a scene with a family dinner where everyone is together and listens to Churchill’s speech (played serious), then interrupted by the older sister’s boyfriend making faces in the window, then Grandpa drunkenly talks about breasts of women he loved when he was younger; after that, we have a scene of that boyfriend proposing to the Older sister while saying he’s shipping out tomorrow (100% serious). The Golden Globes defined it as a Comedy, but that feels misleading, as the comedy isn’t funny or all that charming nor is there any black comedy, and it’s more serious than not in the first hour and 20 minutes. Did not enjoy this one.