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58
3.3 out of 5 stars
The Winter Guest [DVD]
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120 of 121 people found the following review helpful
on 26 October 2001
Although this is not a video I watch often, it is one of my favourites. It is very vivid, yet quiet, and stays in the memory.
Real-life mother and daughter Phyllida law and Emma Thompson are particularly good as mother and daughter in the film, struggling to cope with their relationship after the death of Emma Thompson's husband. She in turn is trying to avoid repeating mistakes with her own son and alienating him.
The beautiful Scottish setting is paradoxically unwelcoming yet comforting, particularly the snow-covered beach. A real sense of cold is conveyed to the viewer, but also the magical hush you feel on a pristinely white winter's morning.
It is the small details of this film that I always remember - the two old women enjoying a cream cake together, Emma Thompson applying her eye make-up and the small boys dividing a Mars Bar between themselves.
The film was originally a play and someone suggested to Alan Rickman it had a very 'filmic' quality. I am glad he decided to do it as it is a beautiful film. If you ever read this Alan, I would like to thank you for making it.
I absolutely love it and would urge those who appreciate a well-crafted piece, rather than clumsy 'loud' films to buy it.
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44 of 45 people found the following review helpful
on 22 June 2005
This is one of the most beautiful and moving films I have seen in a very long time. Though nothing really happens, relationships are allowed to develop within the context of a visually stunning scottish backdrop. Each relationship brings to the surface a different memory from my past-recollections of arguements with my own mother, banter with friends, first kisses. It really is a very human story and the characters aren't your average airbrushed "perfect" hollywood types. They are flawed, they have imperfections and we grow to love them because of those flaws rather than inspite of them. You'll carry this film in your heart long after the credits have rolled. I know I still do.
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49 of 52 people found the following review helpful
on 12 January 2004
It's difficult to explain quite why this one of my favourite films.
It is extremely unusual to watch a film where characters and relationships are given the space and privacy to really expand. The film carries no real 'plot' in the Hollywood sense of the word, in much the same way as real life doesn't and the result is an extraordinarily intimate film where it is impossible not to be drawn into and relate to the four pairs of characters described.
The Winter Guest has a simplicity and honesty which stays with you long after you have finished watching and which is genuinely nourishing, unlike the gratuitous, quick-fix formula to which most films nowadays are manufactured.
A beautiful, warming and life affirming piece of work. If I ever put my name to a film, I would want it to be like this.
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39 of 42 people found the following review helpful
on 10 December 2002
I was a little dubious about this film - at first glance there didn't seem to be much of a story. Having watched it a couple of times, it's one of those films that grow on you.
It follows the changes in relationships between 4 pairs of people - and that's really the whole point. Life isn't necessarily about lots of action. It's everyday things often that affect people in subtle ways to alter them. The main "pair" is Emma Thompson and her real life mother Phylidda Law. There is a depth of emotion and history between them that must only have been enhanced by their off screen connection. The humour element is captured nicely between the schoolboys (note a young Sean Biggerstaff - "Oliver Wood" in Harry Potter films).
The setting is in Scotland on a freezing cold day when the sea has frozen. The human elements supply the warmth.
As a fan of Alan Rickman's work, this is a wonderful directorial debut - though I do prefer to see him in front of the camera! If you like fast action, you'll hate it; if you like to watch a film about real people and normal life, you might really enjoy it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 25 August 2012
Set in a small Scottish seaside village, the film explores the remarkable journeys taken by 4 unlikely couples in a single day.

Elspeth (Phylidda Law) and Frances (Emma Thompson) are wonderful as Mother and Daughter who go for a walk.
Alex (Gary Hollywood) and Nita (Arlene Cockburn) experience love for the first time as the result of a pie.
Lily (Shelia Reid) and Chloe (Sandra Voe) go on a bus ride and eat cake.
Tom (Sean Biggerstaff) and Sam (Douglas Murphy) are two schoolboys who skip school for the day and find a kitten.

The movie also has a most evocative soundtrack from Michal Kamen.

Buy this movie.
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41 of 47 people found the following review helpful
TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 16 December 2002
This slice of life story concerns four couples of different ages on a dreary winter day in a Scottish coastal town. We watch a young window (Emma Thompson) and her estranged mother, two elderly ladies who frequent funerals, two adolescent boys taking a day off from school, and a teenage couple looking for love. At first it may seem that nothing dramatic happens to these people, as they go about their day in the frozen and bleak town, but actually, the drama of their everyday lives is absolutely riveting. It takes a while to get started, but by the end (especially the song over the end credits) you'll be ready to hit rewind and see it again. It is so painfully touching and real. Thompson is outstanding as always, as she spars with her mother (played by her real-life mother, Plyllida Law). Look for a young Sean Biggerstaff in a wonderful screen debut as a thoughtful, sensitive boy. The writing and acting are superb. Who is the Winter Guest? You decide!
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 27 November 2009
This is a delightful film. The characterisation is excellent, the acting is spot on and Alan Rickman's direction is intelligent. Emma Thompson and Phyllida Law tend, in general, not to play rip-roaring action parts, so it's a mistake to expect anything other than well-played emotive scenes in this very European of British films.

Much of the dialogue consists of verbal sparring between four very different pairs of characters (two school boys, two teenagers, two elderly ladies and the two leads: mother and daughter). The back and forth of verbal brickbats is the kind only possible between those holding each other in considerable affection. It is in this realistic portrayal of genuine emotion that The Winter Guest scores most highly as it charts the journey of each pair towards a greater understanding of each other.

One further character emerges - that of the biting cold of a winter in Scotland. Seeing the other characters crunching gingerly or striding wilfully through snow and ice, one can almost feel the cold seeping out of the screen. This contrasts beautifully with the wit and warmth of the characters who show unlikely affection for each other.

An intelligent, warm-hearted film. If you have read this far, you will almost certainly enjoy it!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 17 February 2015
A film about a long cold day and the tug of war between mother and daughter to decide what they want from each other. Good performances that could just be unremittingly depressing, but offer more. Emma Thompson is superb. I'd seen this in the theatre and now, years later on, went looking for a DVD to see it again.
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This is a strange film: all atmosphere and characters, not much plot. The action takes place over a single day in deep winter in a small Scottish town and has four, mostly separate strands.

There is a mother and daughter whose relationship has frozen over, rather like the sea in the film. We watch that iciness begin to thaw.

There are two young lads playing truant from school. This is the most successful strand to the story for me. There's something genuinely touching about the mixture of child and adult in their behaviour and conversation.

There are two teenagers who begin a relationship. This is the least successful strand i think. The story of their blossoming love affair feels falsely heightened - an adult's nostalgia for adolescence, rather than the real, often messy and crude, thing.

And finally there is a strand involving two old ladies who make a hobby of attending funerals. This is a bit so-so, the kind of quirky-old-people story that seems to have been done to death.

None of the stories really go anywhere and in keeping with the winter setting the pace of the action is glacial; but that's partly made up for by the excellent acting. In the end though it's the bleak beauty of the cinematography that makes the most impression.
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19 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on 8 June 2001
I started watching this film, but gave up after 10 minutes or so. Then, a few weeks later, decided to give it another go. My goodness, I am glad I did. I know if a film is really good, because it has that quality which actually changes how I feel about life - it has a profound impact and leaves me thinking about it for days after. Only a handful of films have had this effect on me - Baghdad Cafe, Billy Elliot and Dances With Wolves to name three. I can now add a fourth, The Winter Guest. I just want to watch it again.
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