film 4 of 7

The Maggie

Film Review by Dean Duncan Aug 29, 2014

We’re all familiar with passive resistance. Here is passive aggressive resistance, at a level that is both heroic and outright infernal. The Scots ship’s captain at the centre of Alexander Mackendrick’s cruel comedy is an utter scoundrel, and as his sins mount up the shortbread/sentiment/heritage stuff means less and less, at least in terms of the moral balance of things. Villainy is villainy, no matter how quaint. Why is it, then that sentiment and heritage—if not shortbread—win out? It’s partly because of the filmmakers, and how beautifully they tell their story, capture and assemble their images. That 100 year old woman’s birthday party is very powerful stuff, fit to be mentioned beside the ceilidh sequence in this same director’s estimable 1949 film Whisky Galore, testifying to the same defunct verities. (The dock sequence!) It’s also because there’s usually a reason, even a good one, for passive aggressive behaviour. In this just-post Marshall Plan movie, the Americans really do have a lot to answer for. The Paul Douglas character is decent and honourable and in the right. So the US, for that matter. But he is imposing on his wife, and they, well…

Not incidentally, and also like Whisky GaloreThe Maggie quite gleefully sends the Englishman to outer darkness. Regional resentments are interesting!