Sunday, June 26, 2005

Rom Con

I am almost wholly unfamiliar with the oeuvre of Richard Curtis. Apart from seeing bits of the Vicar of Dibley, my knowledge of his more substantial work (contender for Inappropriate Adjective of The Year) comes at secondhand. But last night I watched the first half hour of his television film The Girl in the Café. That I watched any of it was down to the presence of Bill Nighy and if human life weren't finite I might well have watched all of it and been sufficiently entertained not to fall into a coma.

I admire Bill Nighy as much as the next person but in this film Bill Nighy was playing Bill Nighy. Maybe he thought he'd do it himself before Rory Bremner starts doing him. But somebody should have told him to tone it down a bit.
The scene with him leaving the café and wondering whether to return to speak again to the girl almost developed into a stand-alone short film. One could imagine it as piece of video art at Tate Modern: Man Leaving Café.
He's a terrific actor and it's wonderful watching all that pocket-patting, tie-straightening, hair-slicking and eye-darting. But just because he can do it so well doesn't mean that directors shouldn't rein him in a bit.

I switched on again about 45 minutes later and, although Bill Nighy and the girl were now lying a foot apart in a double bed, he was still behaving like a 14 year old whose mother's best friend has come on to him at the summer barbecue after drinking too much Chardonnay. Apparently Curtis's male characters always behave like this and I can see that Hugh Grant is perfect casting for such roles. But it seemed all wrong for the wolfish Nighy who one assumes would reach first base with a woman before the rest of the boys had got their boots on.

I believe that Curtis's films are very popular in America, which must reinforce a lot of false stereotypes about British males and their relationships with women. In the real world, British males start having sex earlier than anywhere else in Europe.
Of course, that may be because they don't notice that while they've been stammering and patting their breast pocket and straightening their tie, their girlfriends have removed their trousers.

I can see the appeal of Curtis's 'romcoms', even if, on the evidence of last night, they seem more a like a 'romcon'. There's no reason to get worked up into a fit of snobbish indignation about them. But whilst a water ice is a perfectly pleasant thing, it's supposed to be a palate refresher between courses. Consumed as a main course, you'll soon be wishing you'd had something more substantial.


At 9:30 PM, Blogger cello said...

Richard Curtis is a bit of a conundrum and the evidence about his talent is confusing. The case for the defence would seem to be "Blackadder", and "Four Weddings" (not actually my taste but a very polished script.

I also have been known to laugh at the occasional "The Vicar of Dibley" and "The Thin Blue Line" though they always make Mr C leave the room urgently in search of a vomitorium. Mind you he's a cynical, hard-bitten old bastard whereas I am an incurable romantic.

But even I am not so romantic as to be able to tolerate brain-rotting tosh like "Love Actually" or "Notting Hill". However, I am convinced that he is a genuinely good and decent man and should made Prime Minister immediately. For one thing,it would stop him writing things like "The Girl in the Cafe".

I reckon I have had a bit of a thing about Bill Nighy for at least 20 years, ever since he was in a steamy drama called "The Women's Room". Bet you can't beat that, Willie. Or can you?

At 7:08 AM, Blogger Willie Lupin said...

I can identify with your description of Mr C, although there are a few remnants of romanticism if you look hard enough.

The other question is whether Richard Curtis should be mixing his political interests with his TV writing, as he also did with Dibley. Imagine the uproar if someone did that from a right-wing perspective.

In case I gave the wrong impression, although I like Bill Nighy as an actor I don't have a thing for him. His appeal to women is as much a mystery to me as I suspect it is to him.
I think he's married to the lovely Diana Rigg with whom I once drank Black Velvet at a party.

At 8:15 AM, Blogger Wyndham said...

I too remember The Women's Room in which Mr Nighy played an adulterous husband and also he was also very good in a televised version of Rodney Ackland's play Absolute Hell - both these performances were in the days before he was Bill Nighy. of course. He seems an interesting character - I once saw him giving the finger to a passing car which had irked him for some reason.

And I believe his partner - I don't know if they're married - is the actress Diana Quick, not the lovely Diana Rigg. You're a very lucky man if you've shared a drink with Ms Rigg I would think.

At 9:00 AM, Blogger Willie Lupin said...

Wyndham, you're absolutely right. It was Miss Quick, not Rigg.
For God's sake, Willie, if you're going to name-drop, get the bloody name right.


Post a Comment

<< Home