Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (1960)

18 05 2008

Definitely one of the best “angry young man” / “kitchen sink drama” films I’ve seen. Despite the revolutionary attitude of many British filmmakers during the period, this is actually quite aesthetically tame, especially when compared to the important works of the other “new waves.” However, this is also far more nuanced than most of these films. While there’s plenty of dated “rebel” stuff that dates the film, there is just as many timeless moments of truth.

Arthur slaves the whole week at his factory job, and then uses the money he earns from said job, to get trashed on the weekends. He gets in fights, antagonizes civilians, and participates in an affair with his boss’ wife, Brenda. He also meets Dordeen and immediately becomes infatuated with her. He claims to love her, and to do so in a way that he he hasn’t before. The feeling is mutual, but Dordeen is also interested in getting married, settling down, and starting a family. In other words, become everything Arthur doesn’t want to become.

It’s probably best to eliminate all the overused adjectives that have defined the “angry young man” genre. “Gritty” and “tough” seem like gross exaggerations for a film such as this. Sure, our protagonist gets drunk a lot, falls down stairs, talks the women he’s having an affair with into an abortion but other than narrative points, this is pretty formalistic. I don’t mean that in a bad way, but there’s many sequences that feel almost directly lifted from a theatrical performance. Still, this very controlled sensibility really fleshes the characters out in a manner that is not unlike the characters in Hong Sang-Soo’s films. Certainly, there’s more of a plot, so to speak, in this film, but it is a fairly well-composed human study that thankfully doesn’t in melodramatic tragedy like one might expect. Instead, we’re treated to a very open-ended finale reminiscent of the much more famous final shot in The Graduate. A fabulous film here, that is so much more mature than its marketing campaign would lead you to believe.

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One response

19 05 2008
Dan

This is one of the most beautiful films ever. Free Cinema was a stunning trend.

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