This quiet, unassuming film features a group of the best British actorsand actresses of the post-Second World War period. Celia Johnson alwaysgives an outstanding performance as Jenny, and her stay-at-home daughterrole with an overbearing minister father (Ralph Richardson) is neat,spare, and as effective as Julianne Moore as Laura Brown in the recent TheHours. Margaret Leighton, a marvellous actress who glows in every role sheplays, is Celia Johnson's sister who has been estranged from the familyfor a few years and reappears at this fraught Christmas, and reveals,after a tense reunion with Jenny the real reason for her absence, whichbrings the sisters together again. Their relationship also symbolises therebuilding of families in the recovery years, after the Second World Warhad changed all their lives and the world was no longer the same. RalphRichardson reflects the pre-war attitudes and the difficulties of comingto terms with the new era, the sisters the tribulations of adapting to newways and coping with the leftovers from the war. The supporting actors,who include British stalwarts such as Denholm Elliott, John Gregson, andRoland Culver, do a great job, but the film belongs to the central 3characters. This film is of the 'woman's film' genre of the 1945-1955period, and Celia Johnson and Margaret Leighton were two of the finestrepresentatives of the British film industry at that time.
The film is sentimental and poignant, and none the worse for that. Theacting prevents the story becoming mawkish, and the country setting, thesimple normality of life when life had been far from normal, is theessence of this film. I would recommend this film to anyone studyingBritish post-war film as this is a quintessential example of its type.