Monday, 10 November 2008


“Maybe all one can do is hope to end up with the right regrets.” - Arthur Miller

What is the price of a life? If you are walking down a dark, deserted alley in a part of town that is noted for its illegal activities, your life may not be worth much at all – just the loose change in your pocket. Similarly, if you are a soldier on a battlefield, or the hostage of a terrorist, your life is worth as much as the toss of a coin – heads you win, tails you lose, as chance would have it. If, however, you are living peacefully in a developed country, if you are a law-abiding citizen, your life begins to gain value. The higher up the social scale you climb, the greater the price on your life. You only have to look at the bodyguards surrounding the rich and famous, protecting one individual’s life with their own to understand what I mean.

But think of a person you love. How much is the life of your son, your daughter, your spouse worth? What value do you put on that life? To what lengths would you go to preserve that life, to what lengths would go to defend it, to what lengths to avenge its wrongful discontinuation? Maybe it all boils down to whether you are giver or a taker by nature… The film we watched last weekend is superficially a thriller, a comedy, a heist caper. But more deeply it examines the questions I’ve just asked. It is the Michael Radford’s 2007 “Flawless”. It stars Demi Moore and Michael Caine, both of whom do a sterling job of their roles.

The story is set in swinging 1960s London, which nevertheless is very conservative and where the business world is very much a man’s domain. Demi Moore is Laura Quinn, an intelligent and beautiful executive at the London Diamond Corporation. She finds herself frustrated by a glass ceiling after years of faithful employment, and all sorts of sacrifices including her choice of career over relationship and family. Man after man is promoted ahead of her despite her greater experience and ability. Michael Caine is Hobbs, the night-time cleaner at London Diamond who is all but invisible to the executives that work there. Hobbs has over the long time of his employment amassed a great deal of knowledge about the company. His astute eye catches Laura’s frustration and he convinces her to help him steal a thermos flask full of diamonds, which will be enough to set both of them up more than comfortably for the rest of their lives.

The film has a good atmosphere, one that almost convinces you that it was actually made in the 1960s. The soundtrack was very mush an element in this, with “Take Five” by the Dave Brubeck quartet being just perfect foil for the slick imagery. Ms Moore has an astonishing wardrobe that sets off her rather lissome figure and Michael Caine shows in his maturity a worthy restraint in what is a very underplayed but significant role. The production is excellent and the film hangs together very well. It can be watched superficially as a typical heist movie, however, the message is much strong with several well developed sub-themes: Equality of the sexes, greed, power, the value of life, money and the value we place on it, corruption, generosity, social stratification, belief in a worthy cause, are all elements of this film and one can view it as deeply or as shallowly as one wishes. We enjoyed it quite a lot and despite its “message” or “moral”, deeply it can be enjoyed as a bit of an escapist flick, as well.

Enjoy your week!

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