Saturday, 10 November 2012

Film review/opinion - Loving Memory (1971)

As part of Film 4s current "British Connection" series of films, they showed this film, written and directed by the late Tony Scott (Top Gun, Days of Thunder, Crimson Tide) at the tail end of a night of "horror" films (although only one of the films shown I would class as proper "horror").

Its a rather odd film, containing several characters but yet only one of them has any on screen dialogue, and that in itself consists of a series of rambling monologues where an elderly woman recounts her memories of life.

The film starts with a young cyclist out riding through the Yorkshire moors being knocked off his bike and killed by a passing car. The cars driver and passenger, an elderly man and woman, who are revealed to be brother and sister, stop to render assistance, but instead of making an attempt to contact the police or an ambulance, they put the body in their car and take it home.
The woman begins recounting tales of her life to the corpse, talking to it as though it is her younger brother, who over the course of the film we learn was killed in the second world war. Throughout the film the woman washes, dresses and attempts to feed the corpse, all the while wittering away the rather disturbing tale of her life thus far, including how one night a plane crashed near their isolated house and directs the corpses attention to one of the planes propellers which hangs precariously  from two small hooks screwed into the ceiling above where the corpse is sat.
Over the course of the film, the brother (named "Ambrose") uses his spare time to build a coffin in which to bury the body.
He eventually completes the coffin, but when he comes to take the body away for burial, he finds that the woman has booby trapped the propeller so that it will fall on him (and pull a large section of the sitting rooms ceiling down along with it). The trap is sprung, but does not kill him, and the final scene of the film shows him burying the body in a small graveyard in the woods near the house alongside some other graves, while the woman sadly looks on.

Throughout the films short running time (57 minutes in total) it becomes fairly obvious very quickly that the woman is mentally unbalanced and unable to accept that her brother was killed all those years ago, and that her long suffering remaining brother is fully aware of her problems but just carries on with his life as normal.
The monologues are strangely delivered and disturbing in places, sometimes bordering on being almost child like in their viewpoint. For example, in one of her monologues, the woman describes the time when the "army men" came to the house and knocked on the door (presumably to inform them of the elder brothers death), but she didn't answer it because she knew that her brother wouldn't have knocked, she then goes on to tell the corpse that Ambrose "made a box for him [the elder brother], just like hes doing for you" when they "brought him home". It is assumed that one of the graves in the impromptu graveyard belongs to the brother, whereas the other graves (I counted two additional, but this may have been the same one viewed from different angles) are for previous people whom they have accidentally killed.

All in all though, the film isn't bad, and is a nice curio of British cinema that managed to be somewhat charming but also rather disturbing at the same time.

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