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Keep the Aspidistra Flying

This adaptation of Orwell's '30s satire on the advertising game is a dull, timid movie, all romantic flurry, tarted-up design and chocolate box London location photography. Grant seems to fit the bill, looks and character-wise, as Gordon Comstock, the frustrated copywriter at New Albion Publicity who jacks it all in for the life of a bohemian writer in the Lambeth slums. There's a period angularity about his face and body, and his mannerisms suggest the requisite vanity and naivety. And Bonham Carter, the smart side of prim in three-quarter-length velvet coats and idiosyncratic millinery, is controlled exasperation itself as the designer who would be his bride. But Bierman, working from an uninspired script by Alan Plater, finds no way to engage with, or make relevant, the satire, and concentrates instead on routine romantic comedy. The project thus emasculated, all that remains is archaic dalliance, coy sex, tea shop chatter and laughable class caricature. Worse, the language remains flat, and - unintentionally or not - it's a reactionary reading.

Release details

Duration: 101 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Robert Bierman
Screenwriter: Alan Plater
Cast: Richard E Grant
Helena Bonham Carter
Julian Wadham
Jim Carter
Harriet Walter
Bill Wallis
Lesley Vicerage
Liz Smith
Barbara Leigh Hunt
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