Sunday, 26 October 2014

Critic as Clerk

It was supposed to be simple. I wanted… Well, this is something that has always worried me: whose letter is Ernest actually talking about - his, Hélène’s or Alphonse’s? Too lazy to watch the film again I decided to seek expert advice, and thought I would find it amongst the pages of The Masters of Cinema Series.  Excited, I am impatient, and as I take the booklet from its plastic case I become frustrated at its recalcitrance; and tear it to pieces…Oh dear!  I’m… Can you hear it?  That thick bludgeoning thump! as my friend faints to the floor…  There is a cloud of dust; his partner is coughing; the kids screaming, shouting “dad! we can’t see the screen…”  Then suddenly: silence.  And through the settling dust we hear…a groan; hiccupping tears; a whispered cry…my name is mentioned.  Not, I might add, with either finesse or decorum.  But, my friend, what can I do now?  I’ll try not to scratch the DVD….

Of course I could have searched the film for the particular scene I needed.  But I thought my question too important for any critic to ignore.  I certainly didn’t ignore it; albeit in my original piece I disguised my uncertainty, preferring to develop the logic of my argument to its most extreme and consistent conclusion: Hélène’s love for Alphonse is founded on a complete fiction.  Oh!  Sorry!  I see that I am losing you.  We must take a break.  Go and sit over there; there; there on the floor by that pile of Dickens.  Here’s a cup of tea (Russian Caravan with a shade of milk and one and a half teaspoons of sugar; it should do you quite nicely).  And here are some ginger biscuits.  You don’t like ginger?  What about a Victoria Sponge…  Nice, yes? Oh, I should hope so…  So you’re…you’re comfortable? That’s good. Here is the film.  And here is my original review.   I’ll be back in a couple of hours.