Directed by: Tony Richardson
“Cheer up boyo. You look like a laxative commercial…before.” – Cliff
Kitchen Sink Realism is a British phenomenon that was very popular in the late fifties and early sixties. My last blog post was about a film that sort of wrecked the movement because it was so severely unpopular, despite getting Oscar nominations. This blog post is about a film that made the movement popular. That film is of course Look Back in Anger, starring one of the best actors of all time Richard Burton.
Richard Burton plays a young man named Jimmy Porter. He has a wife, a best friend, and his skill with the trumpet. Yet this man is chronically unhappy. First it seems to be that he hates his wife, but in one scene in particular where they pretend to be a squirrel and a at a market. That point of view changes though when you learn that he was given the candy stand after an older woman’s husband dies, leaving her with no children. She sees Jimmy as her son and loves it when he pays even the smallest attention to her. He loves owning his own business and working with his best friend, Cliff. Cliff and him have such a passionate relationship with each other. Cliff loves his wife like he would love a sister and all three of them joke and make up silly songs together. Cliff has got to be my favorite character in the whole film. He is just so cute.
Everything gets amped up a little bit when his wife, Alison, invites one of her old friends to stay with her while she is in a play in the city. This coincides with finding out that she is pregnant. She wants to get rid of it, but it being the fifties that is sort of an impossible solution. From the very beginning, the friend and Jimmy clash on everything. He abuses her while she tuts tuts about Alison being treated like dirt. But the attraction is intense between the friend and Jimmy. The friend convinces Allison to go to her parents, leaving Jimmy for good.
Of course this is around the time that you hear something more about Jimmy. His benefactor just died and he tells a story about his early influence with death. He is fundamentally broken. His rage from when Allison leaves finds an outlet in an affair with her friend. She falls desperately in love with him and he barely registers it. Of course the whole story falls into place from there.
The language in this film is amazing. Richard Burton embodies this character so fiercely and every word he utters is poignant and amazing. Of course Richard Burton is a hot toddy as well. This film plays like a modern day Shakespeare play and I loved every moment of it.