Joe's Palace (BBC) [DVD]
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The BBC 1 film from acclaimed writer-director, Stephen Poliakoff, Joe's Palace, is a characteristically engrossing work.
It features a stellar cast, led by Michael Gambon (Perfect Strangers, Gosford Park), Rupert Penry-Jones (Spooks), Kelly Reilly (Mrs Henderson Presents), Rebecca Hall (Starter For Ten) and newcomer Danny Lee Wynter, who takes the title role.
Joe's Palace explores the relationship between the two central characters, Elliot (Michael Gambon), a reclusive billionaire, and Joe (Danny Lee Wynter), the teenage son of a cleaner who takes care of a grand neighbouring house.
The beautiful but dormant house is owned, though not inhabited, by Elliot who lives close by. It has many echoes of the past maybe it was once grand offices, or a place for parties and functions. Elliot has inherited the house and its mysteries from his now-dead father.
Part messenger, part protégé, Joe is a link between Elliot and the outside world as their story and the stories of the visitors to the empty house ricochet and reverberate. When Richard (Rupert Penry-Jones), a charming, high-flying politician, conducts a passionate and clandestine love affair with Charlotte (Kelly Reilly) at Elliot's mansion, Joe begins to question his innocent view of the world. In this contemporary film about loneliness and loss, the sins of the father are finally revealed in an emotionally devastating climax.
Danny Lee Wynter also plays the same role of caretaker Joe in Capturing Mary, which followed on BBC 2 with a cast led by Maggie Smith (Ladies In Lavender), David Walliams (Little Britain) and Ruth Wilson (Jane Eyre).
he two films together are linked by an exquisite house frozen in time, and a young highly individual man, Joe, through whose eyes we see the world.
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However, when the author wants to tie his yarn together he does not know how. So he uses a tried and tested way; he brings in the Nazis. The archetypal evil can be trusted to do anything strange so that the yarn can be tied up. So utterly pathetic and conventional. And he returns some objects to some Jewish survivor that happens to live in the US (read: HBO Films funded the film). What I hate is how utterly conventional the film becomes in the end. All the mystery in the first 80 minutes evaporates into some politically correct trivial resolution.
The gripping power of this piece is delivered by some amazing performances by a series of unrelated characters delivering cameo roles, on the one hand lonely and empty but on the other hand hinting at a massive back story. Great interaction.
It's pieces like this that remind you that the best is all about the acting, not editing nor special effects.
productions, that I have seen anyway. That is something I have also noticed with adaptions of John Le Carre's works. Is that useful ? maybe not.
I thought Danny Lee Wynter was fascinating as Joe, a likable sort of innocent, though not so innocent as he may seem. Not as slow either. I also liked Rebecca Hall, who brought a witty touch to it. Rupert Penry-Jones and Kelly Reilly provide the eye candy, and are also very good.
Needless to say, Michael Gambon was superb.
It is sometimes difficult to understand and it seems to be a bit senseless but this is the essence of it. I enjoyed the acting and the quietness of it. Impressive indeed!! The only thing I did not like was the end when the billionaire found out how his father has made his money. The Nazi theme was a bit forced and did not really fit in the story.
But all in all a very good movie, but properly not appealing to mass tastes.
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Any film with Rupert Penry-Jones in it is a good movie. A bit slow at the start but you can't take your eyes off the screen once you get the...Read more