Friday, October 21, 2016

All Passion Spent



I do not know why I chose to buy the BBC production of "All Passion Spent" (based on the novel by Vita Sackville West, pictured above). It must have been an Amazon suggestion that, having registered, I bought elsewhere. (The Amazon site is just the best to identify product and the company (given its behaviours) just the worst to actually buy from)!

It is a cliche to say, 'They do n't make them like they used to'; but, cliches are as they are because they carry truth (however ossified).

It is a beautiful piece of reflective drama with a sterling cast led by Wendy Hiller as the recently widowed partner of a former Viceroy of India and Prime Minister who startles her family by retreating to Hampstead and living a reclusive life, separated from all the previous demands of the wife of a prominent public figure.

In its place, she forms new attachments to her landlord, his building contractor and, surprisingly, an eccentric art collector who had met her in India and with whom she shared a moment of recognition. The recognition was that her life, gilded as it was, diverted her from her core identity. It is a diversion to which her rediscovered collector friend brings her to full recognition. In that recognition she comes to fulfilment, disconcerts her family (whose pursuit of social and economic maintenance is gently mocked) and indirectly liberates her great granddaughter into a renewed potential to follow her calling.

It is all beautifully acted - the dialogue scintillates, the performances are exact, and the observations are acute - nothing 'dramatic' happens except the unfoldment of lives to true purpose (and their evasion).

It is an ever gentle reminder that perhaps each and every person has a 'weird' (to use the Anglo Saxon phrase), a particular way to follow the golden string to heaven's gate and the pressures of conformity (in which ever societal matrix) are often not best designed to allowing people to be that weird.

It asks us to reflect on what is the light within us that we should honour and recognises and that a 'good life' may not be that life to which we are called.

Many of us will live this discrepancy, the distance, but there is never a point at which the gap cannot be closed. Wendy Hiller's character is given by the art collector a great moment of choice (at the very end of her life) and she choses wisely and well. She testifies to her true character; and, the gap is closed and her life fulfilled. There is never a moment when 'salvation' is not offered and possible.


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