The L-Shaped Room
, adapted by writer-director Bryan Forbes from Lynne Reid Banks' novel, unfolds in a dank, depressing London boarding house. Leslie Caron plays Jane Fosset, a 27-year-old French woman, down on her luck, who takes a room. There are bugs in her mattress. The taps drip. The landlady ("the lovely Doris") is a drunken, malicious busybody. Forbes doesn't paint the English in a flattering light. They're covetous, eccentric and xenophobic. "I never close my door to the nigs," Doris tells Fosset, as if to prove that she is no racist. When Fosset reveals that she's pregnant and unmarried, everybody turns against her. The one real friend Fosset makes is Toby (Tom Bell), an impoverished would-be writer who lives in the room downstairs. She starts an affair with him, but for all his protestations to the contrary, he too turns out to be moralistic and conservative--he can't accept the idea that she is having another man's baby.
Forbes' dialogue sometimes grates, the film risks running into a dead end (Fosset is stuck with nowhere to go and no prospects), but this is compelling fare all the same. Cameraman Douglas Slocombe (who went on to shoot Raiders of the Lost Ark) makes the boarding house seem as gloomy and oppressive as a Gothic mansion. Forbes doesn't sentimentalise at all. The London he portrays is nothing like the swinging, hedonistic city shown in later British movies of the 60s. --Geoffrey Macnab
United Kingdom released, PAL/Region 2 DVD: LANGUAGES: English ( Mono ), ANAMORPHIC WIDESCREEN (1.78:1), SPECIAL FEATURES: Anamorphic Widescreen, Black & White, Interactive Menu, Scene Access, SYNOPSIS: Jane, a young French woman, pregnant and unmarried, takes a room in a seedy London boarding house, which is inhabited by an assortment of misfits. She considers getting an abortion, but is unhappy with this solution. She falls into a relationship with Toby, a struggling young writer who lives on the first floor. Eventually she comes to like her odd room, and makes friends with all the strange people in the house. But she still faces two problems: what to do with her baby, and what to do with Toby. SCREENED/AWARDED AT: BAFTA Awards, Golden Globes, ...The L-Shaped Room