The Hireling

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Not uninteresting adaptation of LP Hartley's novel, consciously styled in echo of Losey's The Go-Between, with excellent performances from Miles as the upper class widow recuperating from a nervous breakdown, and Shaw as the chauffeur of the car she hires daily to escape her empty world of tinkling teacups and social chitchat.Talking to the chauffeur's back, reassured by the monosyllabic pragmatism of an ex-RSM who views life's problems in terms of black and white, she gradually realises the emptiness of her self-torment, becomes gay, flirtatious, ready to resume her place in society; he, meanwhile, is gradually caught in the toils of an inarticulate, almost mystic adoration. The social barrier is subtly evoked in terms which have nothing to do with Lady Chatterley snobbery and sexual challenge; the point Hartley makes is that because neither ever really sees the other as a human being, neither of them can consciously admit the other as a possible partner, and frustration is inevitable. At which point, alas, the film falls apart. Electing to sound a blast of contemporary social protest totally at odds with the '20s setting, it has the chauffeur going berserk and using his Rolls as a battering-ram to the accompaniment of ironical snatches of 'Rule Britannia' and 'God Save the Queen'. Crass is hardly the word for it.

Release details

Duration: 108 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Alan Bridges
Screenwriter: Wolf Mankowitz
Cast: Robert Shaw
Sarah Miles
Peter Egan
Elizabeth Sellars
Caroline Mortimer
Ian Hogg
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