She's Been Away

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Scripted by Stephen Poliakoff, the first 35mm movie wholly financed by the BBC, this has the incomparable Ashcroft as an elderly woman, put into institutional care when still a young woman, released in her twilight years by the agency of her liberal nephew (Fox). Ashcroft's problem is not mental illness but a surfeit of stubborness and independence, the former communicated by her weapon of silence against repressiveness, the latter by flashbacks which show her as a young, vaguely libertarian and feminist black sheep. But the impetus of the film is the relationship between Ashcroft and Fox's contented but stifled wife (splendidly played by Geraldine James). The grudging but gradual bond between the two women leads, almost inevitably with Poliakoff, into a spot of picaresque delinquency in the family Daimler and the realisation that all is not well with this seemingly ideal marriage. Good stuff, slightly pat, but as with most of Poliakoff's writing, always engaging and often amusingly sly.

Release details

Duration: 103 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Peter Hall
Screenwriter: Stephen Poliakoff
Cast: Peggy Ashcroft
Geraldine James
James Fox
Rachel Kempson
Rebecca Pidgeon
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