Sunday, 13 March 2011
Raw, Shocking, Boring
On paper, 'Privilege' sounds fascinating. On screen, however, despite flashes of style, it's a rather dull affair. The closest director Watkins ('Culloden', 'The War Game') ever got to a narrative film, 'Privilege' retains his customary quasi-documentary approach and sardonic commentary to tell the tale of a future Britain (in the 70's) where a state sponsored pop star is heavily promoted to distract the populace from the fascistic grip the government exerts over every other aspect of their lives. The star, Steven Shorter (played by ex Manfred Mann singer, Paul Jones) has no illusions that he is being used, but begins to draw the line when expected to take part in mass rallies to win people back to the Church.
The main problems with the film are the pacing and the casting. Paul Jones makes sense, but is simply unable to give the character any depth (he starts off anxious, he stays really anxious, and he conveys this by biting his lip and wringing his hands); Jean Shrimpton is awful, barely audible, rarely believable. Their scenes together demonstrate how non-actors can kill a scene stone dead, and they have quite a few scenes together.
Unfavourably received because it was deemed too far fetched, it seems fairly relevant now in our current bread, circuses and singing competition culture, it's just a shame it's not a better film.