Thursday, June 01, 2006

Her Price is Far Above Rubies

A Movie Review

It was for The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, an adaptation of the novel by (the now recently deceased) Muriel Spark, that Maggie Smith won a completely deserved Academy Award. Set at a privet girls school in 1930's Scotland, the feature starts out like your standard, inspiring and unconventional teacher movie. For the first forty minutes or so the film is just that, an not overly good at it either. Brodie is quite extreme, and none of the girls are particularly likeable. But the plot takes a dark turn there after, focusing more on Jean Brodies complicated personal life and strained relationship with pupil Sandy (an impressive performance by young Pamela Franklin). Robert Stephens and Gordon Jackson play Jeans two love interests, while Celia Johnson is Miss Mackay, the headmistress who never liked Miss Brodie.

Brodie is an interesting character, who starts out the film a tad over the top, and stays that way throughout, though we do get to look deeper and deeper into her complicated soul as the movie progresses. To give you a sense of her oddness, lets look at her admiration for Fascism, she literally gushes about Mussolini throughout the film. Her support of the Fascists brings out a, shall we say, unconventinal combination of traits in her character. First off she fancies the brown shirts in a highley romanticiesd way, a by product I suppose, of the fact that she lives in her own intellectually self-indulgent world, divorced from reality. What she sees a quirk that exemplifies her unconventionality, others see as disturbing and dangerous. Though she is set up in one way, we are meant to come and see her in another. Miss Jean Brodie is dangerous, and she should probably not be influencing children. Now while she says she has devoted her life to "her girls", even that phrasing reveals that it is really all about her in the end, even if she could never admit as much to herself. Don't get me wrong, you'll probably not hate Miss Brodie, mostly you'll just pity her. I did not like this movie at first, but it really hit me out of left field in the second half and I have to give it good marks, thoughLike Miss Brodie this film is not for young children, so be advised.


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