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Thursday, June 19, 2008

Affinity, opening film LGBT festival

Lead paragraph(s) here.
Class is often invisible to those in the upper echelons. So it is that the movie, Affinity, as revealed to us through the eyes of one of the principal characters, Margaret, fools us as she is fooled in this beautiful adaptation of the novel by Sarah Waters. Margaret is a wealthy woman who has lost her father to whom she was devoted. To relieve her grief she becomes a regular visitor to Millbank, a notoriously bleak prison for women in London in the latter half of the 19th century. There she meets and falls in love with a beautiful medium. The story has all the elements of a picturesque lesbian love story but I found it affected me much more deeply than such a scenario might.
The rest goes here.

I read Waters first novel, Tipping the Velvet, and viewed the adaptation, as well as read Affinity. I loved the first novel and enjoyed the adaptation but I must admit that I enjoyed the movie version of Affinity even more than the book, which seemed weighted down somehow by a slow paced description of Margaret’s life. She is as confined in her gilded prison as Selina is in gothic goal. The dresses she wears, as well as the customs of the times are richly visualized in a way that doesn’t require words. I was also intrigued by the film’s portrayal of spiritualism, a topic I researched for a play I wrote some time ago. Waters and the film convey a true sense of what it might have meant to believe in communication with the dead and the power of a world beyond the material. They show us how a logical, sane person might be convinced of the existence of spirits, especially when falling love.

In the discussion after the film, Waters and the screenwriter, Andrew Davies, expressed a belief about spiritualist mediums I share. Some were or are today sincere and can help people, even if they have to cheat a little to keep up their reputations and produce the results their believers come to demand. I won’t reveal the ending but I believe you will be surprised and you will be left, as I was, to wonder why you didn’t see what was so obvious. It’s almost like that old riddle about the car accident where a child and his father are rushed to the hospital and the doctor says, “I can’t operate on that boy, he’s my son.” Who is the doctor? People couldn’t get that the doctor was his mother.

I strongly recommend this movie to anyone who is interested in women, historical dramas and welcomes a chance to examine their own assumptions about gender, class and sexuality.



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