The Summer House

Jeanne Moreau, Joan Plowright, Julie Walters, and newcomer Lena Headey star in an enjoyable English comedy directed by Waris Hussein and set in Croydon, a straitlaced London suburb, in 1959. The story, adapted by Martin Sherman from Alice Thomas Ellis’s novel The Clothes in the Wardrobe, concerns a young woman (Headey) who finds herself engaged to a self-absorbed and insensitive local (David Threlfall) she couldn’t care less about. Her mother (Walters), prospective mother-in-law (Plowright), and everyone else in the vicinity somehow manage to dissuade her from backing out, and her only confidant proves to be Lili (Moreau), an unconventional, half-Egyptian friend of the family who turns up for the wedding and slowly but surely, using an arsenal of wiles, does what she can to set things right. Apart from offering a juicy star turn to Moreau, the movie has a lot of mordantly funny things to say about the conventionality of suburban English life, and all the actors shine; with Maggie Steed and John Wood. Starts Saturday, December 25, Fine Arts.

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