Friday, 21 November 2014

Short Review About A Long-Ago Time (The Lady and The Highwayman 1989)

I am not one to watch Romance films. Even for the imaginative fanciful side of me, the genre screams too soppy and is usually, in my opinion, devoid of plot unless absolutely relatable to the love story. This counts also for the written Romance.
However nothing (except maybe for the really squirmy scary scenes!) can keep me away from watching any film or series that Hugh Grant's been in. So having seen only a clip of 'The Lady and The Highwayman', I got curious enough to actually buy the DVD. After all, what is a collection unless it is complete?
The film is apparently based on a book, one which is therefore now a good candidate for my film-tie-in books part of the collection. But aside from the fact that I did find the story pleasing enough to now want to read, my job today is to review this film from twenty-five years ago, which in the film world is considered too long ago.
The story is set in the confines of a historical background, though I must plead guilty to not knowing anything about the time in question and therefore the accuracy of this film in its regard. However I must applaud the authenticity of plot (unless I have obviously missed similar plots for not being a follower of the genre).
I must admit to shaking my head a couple of times in the course of watching this story with regards to some excessively 'coincidental' scenes such as how Lucius (aka Silver Blade) could so easily know that and find Panthea when she is in trouble. The film does not give the reason... has he been stalking her, is it pure coincidence, is it deus ex machina? Also too unbelievable the synchronisation between Panthea's minute of execution and her lover's timely saving her from sure death. Having had my little grumble, I do believe it is permissible in Romance to have such coincidences and magically resolvable problems as long as they help the lovers along.
As always, I have researched this film for facts as well as other people's opinions of it and was disappointed to read on a blog that one particular person, for thinking Hugh Grant so badly-acting in this film, has in all these twenty-five years never shaken off her image of him as Lucius, in whatever other film of his she might be viewing. Since we're on the subject, I do not think Grant's acting was bad at all, though I am sure that he was much more believable in other later roles. The one problem I do find with his portrayal of Lucius is that in this case, the highwayman could not have been as shy a person as Hugh sometimes made him out to be? In a 2012 appearance on The Graham Norton Show, Hugh Grant himself mentions how at times he had difficultly keeping his voice firm and highwaymanly enough for the role. But that just adds to his cuteness, don't you think :-)

On to the outline of what I think is a well-executed film. It centres around Lady Panthea Vyne, a young woman of noble birth, and the notorious Silver Blade (played by a young Hugh) who she meets, seemingly quite by chance, in her hour of need. Silver Blade rescues her from the lecherous, brutal, lying tax collector Drysdale (you might have guessed I dislike this character!) who has pushed her into marrying him. To make the highwayman more humane and likeable, he even helps her bury her dog whom her husband's just killed.

After they run off on a horse into the sunset together, Silver Blade escorts her home where the plucky girl is intent on keeping house, despite apparently being a female orphan (and now knows her brother's been killed). This set up does not last for long, for her aunt descends upon her home to lure her to go and live with her and this older woman, a good old friend of the King, succeeds in introducing Panthea to the royal way of life and this is where her troubles, and true love, really start. It is here I stop my narration for those who might be now curious enough to watch the whole film for themselves. All I will say is, despite the soppiness and extreme bravado of the characters, which might be quite exaggerated for our times, there is something quite endearing in the love of these two young people and well, I couldn't help falling in love with them myself. Give me a good old Robin-hood-type highwayman any day :-)

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