David Hare has been laying into the British for so long now, one begins to wonder what they ever did to him. When Plenty was first produced on the stage, its compelling vision of our postwar decline, seen through the eyes of a wartime heroine, had its edge dulled by a hectoring moral righteousness. Balance is restored in Schepisi's film, largely by the obvious filmic process of shifting the point of view among the characters. The life of Susan Traherne (Streep) suffers a steady decline alongside the more retrograde incidents of our history (Festival of Britain, Suez), until her only option is to take to the road as a vagrant to try and recapture her former glory as a spy in World War II France, when the world seemed young. Performances all round are excellent, especially Dance as her long-suffering boyfriend, and Gielgud as the last exponent of decency at the Foreign office. Whether or not you buy the message, it's a work that qualifies as epic, and reveals Hare as a great Romantic. CPea.
Cast and crew
Meryl Streep Sam Neill Charles Dance John Gielgud Tracey Ullman Sting Ian McKellen André Maranne