Problem Pictures

film 4 of 5


Draft Review by Dean Duncan Jun 16, 2015

Very interesting part of the Ealing cycle, full of fine documentary detail (the simultaneously authentic and stylized neighbourhood in which the family lives, especially the very compelling activities within the school–derived from the British documentary movement, or does one just see it because one looks for it?) combined with a surprising amount of overt style; this is especially evident in the opening sections as they discover and try to deal with Mandy’s handicap, lots of chiaroscuro, dramatic camera moves and such; the melodramatic are they having an affair stuff seems strained, but doubtless that suspicion and intolerance (they’re innocent, though these British films are much more frank and mature than most of their coy American counterpoints in the possibilities of such situations) is there to parallel the silly injustice of contemporary attitudes toward the handicapped, and as such it kind of satisfies; there’s a very striking if slightly incoherent light bulb sequence (cf. The Miracle Worker) when Mandy finally figures out what everone’s doing, Hawkins does his earnest bit well, the child is quite exceptional, and though the marital conflict stuff isn’t quite gripping, the reconciliation and the final scene in the playground (“Mandy,” the child says) is most satisfying