Thursday, June 16, 2011

Two English Girls - Movie

I watched Francois Truffaut's 'Two English Girls', a movie based on a novel. The movie made in 1971 is set in the early 1900s and revolves around a French boy Claude, and two English girls Anne and Muriel. Claude is a stone faced young fellow aspiring to be a writer who meets Anne, an aspiring sculptor, in Paris when they are perhaps in their late teens. Anne invites him to stay with her and her sister Muriel and mother at their house in Wales for the vacation. Claude heads off to Wales, stone faced as ever, and has a great vacation playing games like tennis and some other games like pushing one another. The house of the Browns (the girls are Browns) is wonderful right by the sea side and the views itself were good enough reason to watch the movie.

Anne for some reason believes that Muriel and Claude, would like one other and pushes them on to one another. However, at the same time, the girls also call him their brother. But as the vacation draws to a close, Muriel, who seems more intense and also slightly on the edge, and also has some various eye problems to boot due to which she wears all kinds of glasses, seems to take a fancy to stone faced Claude. Muriel herself has a stone face so they do make a fine pair I thought. But just as things start getting warmer, the Mom detects the growing warmth and shifts the guest to another house close by. Muriel and Claude exchange letters vowing love to one another. The families decide that the couple must serve a trial of separation for an year.

The families turn out right as Claude breaks off from Muriel after he meets many more interesting women in France with whom he has several relationships. Muriel is heartbroken and does all kinds of weird stuff like writing letters she never posts. Anne meanwhile meets Claude on a foray to Paris and they end up having a relationship. Anne is a virgin at thirty! But she makes up fro lost time by getting herself two lovers simultaneously and takes off on an exciting trip to Persia. Claude feels left out until Muriel sends his her last confession - a diary full of her secrets, her guilt at her urge to masturbate etc. He thinks that it has the qualities of a bestseller and decides to publish it. Meanwhile Anne dies of tuberculosis, unmarried. Claude meets Muriel one last time in a hotel when she is on her way to some place to teach. They make love and discover that she is a virgin too. Muriel says she does not want to see him again, though Claude is pining to marry her now. The movie ends with Claude walking around sadly in Paris with a beard, getting startled whenever he hears the name Muriel, which is not often I'd think.

'Two English Girls' is a movie that is quaint for its old world charm. It would appear that people have the same confusion about love, intimacy and relationship in the 1900s as they do now. Nothing about the three suggests any great love for the other - they have enough problems and insecurities of their own to love another. Though critics seemed to have used words like masterpiece etc, I found it passable - not great stuff that moved me, nor boring enough to turn it off. but will i watch it again? Not likely.

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