Freya Lorelei (freyalorelei) wrote,
Freya Lorelei

Berkeley Square; or, weird sad crush is weird and sad.

I know I haven't posted in ages, and while I have a life now, I'm mainly posting a movie review, because I can't do it on That Other Social Network, since I try to keep my weird, sad crush to myself on there.

However, this is LJ, where everyone's a fangirl, so let me ramble on about a film with an obscure actor who's been dead for over 70 years!

So I finally got around to watching Berkeley Square, a 1933 movie starring my lifelong crush Leslie Howard. It's sort of a science fiction romance revolving around time travel, and it's unintentionally hilarious.

Howard plays Peter Standish, a dude who's obsessed with the 18th century, and spends all of his time holed up in a house he recently inherited, poring over his family's history, much to his fiancée's concern. Standish is supposedly American, but Howard doesn't even bother trying for an American accent, which makes the constant Yankee references all the more jarring.

Meanwhile, back in the past, his coincidentally identical ancestor who is also named Peter Standish arrives in England from his home in America. This Peter is obscenely rich, with a 10,000 pound inheritance, and plans to marry his cousin Kate Pettigrew. Bear in mind this is pre-Regency, so this guy is even more loaded than Darcy.

Back to modern-day Peter! All of his friends and his fiancée are convinced he's losing it, as he waxes on about the glamor and gentility of days gone by, aided by a diary left by past!Peter, all while fondling a portentious ankh statue. After some pseudo-philosophical explanations of how time travel works and a convenient thunderstorm (presumably to charge the flux capacitor?), modern!Peter ends up in the Georgian era, complete with a full costume change...and immediately proceeds to fuck shit up.

See, modern!Peter made a HUGE deal about how important it was to conserve the past, and that if he went back he'd behave exactly how his ancestor did, according to the diary. He's supposed to get his portrait painted by a famous artist, marry Kate, and have three children. If he diverges from any of this, then butterfly effect, disastrous consequences, blah blah blah.

Modern!Peter bumbles around like a moron, using modern (well, 1930s) slang that no one understands, doesn't recognize Kate's brother (who past!Peter met in America and hung out with for months), grossly insults the Dowager Duchess of Devonshire, and keeps referring to future events like the Civil War as though they've already happened. He also falls for Kate's younger sister Helen, who's as obsessed with the future as he is with the past.

Modern!Peter continues to act like a spaz, and while he's sitting for this oh-so-vital portrait, he compliments the artist on his magnum opus by title, and the guy freaks out because he'd barely started working on it and NO ONE knows about it. He's so upset by modern!Peter's seemingly supernatural knowledge, he refuses to finish the portrait. Strike one.

Meanwhile modern!Peter's bonding with Helen, who understands him in a way like no one else, and somehow (magic?) he gives her a vision of the future, with cars, trains, bombs, factories, planes, warfare on an unfathomable scale, you name it. Helen decides the future is an awful place, and persuades modern!Peter to stay in the past with her...except modern!Peter knows that if past!Peter doesn't marry her sister (who's also past!Peter's cousin, so he's basically macking on his great-great-great aunt here and WOW that's skeevy), he won't exist.

Also for some reason the future only holds the horrors of war and pollution, not the good shit like, ya know, penicillin. Ironically, modern!Peter mentions that one of past!Peter's kids dies of smallpox...for which Edward Jenner invented a vaccine just fifteen years after the time travel adventure takes place. LOL.

Eventually Kate twigs to the fact that something's not right with this guy, and even her mom is all, look, I don't care how loaded he is, dude's crazy and you can't marry him, plus he's making moves on your little sister.

Then EVERYONE turns on him and decides that he isn't past!Peter, he's a demon who took past!Peter's form and this is literally Satan coming to screw with them. At this point, instead of doing the sensible thing and reassuring them, modern!Peter decides, LIKE A MORON, fuck it, okay, sure, I'm a demon! And he just blabs on and on about the future, while shouting and acting as menacing as possible, to the point where Mr. Pettigrew tries to ward him off with candlesticks in the shape of a cross.

It gets to the point where he's on the brink of being run out of town when Helen convinces him to go Back to the Future, and they'll surely meet again, their love knows no barriers, not even time itself can stop it, etc. etc., sappy tearjerker crap. Oh, and she gives him the very same ankh statue that he recognizes from the future DUN DUN DUN. A mist falls over the camera, and we cut to....

...Modern!Peter sitting in the house, surrounded by modern-ish furniture, reading an obituary: Helen Pettigrew, beloved sister of Kate Standish, died 1784, aged 23. Aaaaand...THE END.

I make it sound ridiculous, but it's actually a really good movie, with (accent aside) some outstanding acting from Howard, who was nominated for an Academy Award for his performance. Heather Angel is lovely as Helen, and aside from a glaring abundance of visible zippers, the period costumes were on point, especially for such an old movie. In all I'd give it 7/10.
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