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4.3 out of 5 stars
17
4.3 out of 5 stars
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on 16 July 2009
This little gem is an absolute must for anyone who is interested in the hidden twists and turns of the human psyche. Based on the novel by L. P. Hartley, it explores the relationship between the troubled minds of an astrocratic young lady and her chauffer. She is suffering, retrospectively from depressive self-criticism after the recent death of her elderly husband, whom she felt she had neglected during his life, while her chauffer is in denial of all emotions, which he sees as weaknesses to surviving in an unjust world. Although the film deviates significantly from the book, in its own way it evokes more poignantly, a time just after the First World War when class image and values were a serious impediment to any real human understanding. Set against a backdrop of gloomy country houses and autumnal landscapes, the acting by the principle protagonists, Sarah Hiles and Robert Shaw, is faltless. Their tortured metamorphosis leaves one with the profound conviction that hypocracy and denial were, and probably still are, the greatest impediments to genuine communication between people from all walks of life.
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on 21 January 2012
Released from a rest home after recovering from a nervous breakdown following the death of her husband, a young aristocratic widow (Sarah Miles) is pulled out of her grief by the friendship of her chauffeur (Robert Shaw). But when the chauffeur falls in love with her and crosses class lines, tragedy is inevitable. The film shares a similar theme with THE GO-BETWEEN, another film which dealt with a romance that crossed class lines between a young woman of the aristocracy and a tenant farmer that had disastrous results. Perhaps it's not surprising since both films are based on novels by L.P. Hartley. But THE HIRELING comes across as a stronger indictment of the British class system. Shaw, in quite possibly his greatest film performance, gives a moving performance as a lonely ex-military man who knows his place in the class system but dares to cross it. Miles gives a delicate, nuanced performance as the frail, unsure widow who eventually recovers her confidence. Winner of the Palme d'Or at the 1973 Cannes film festival Directed by Alan Bridges (RETURN OF THE SOLDIER). The subtle but powerful underscore is by Marc Wilkinson. With Peter Egan and Elizabeth Sellars.

The Sony Pictures Home Entertainment DVD via Great Britain is a fine anamorphic wide screen (1.85) transfer with optional subitles.
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on 22 December 2012
From the opening frames, director Alan Bridges extracts a feeling of melancholy and danger from a wintry Somerset landscape. Sarah Miles is convincing as the widow Lady Franklin who has suffered a nervous breakdown following the death of her husband. Her confidence is rebuilt by her driver, ex-soldier Steven Ledbetter, played by the effortlessly masculine Robert Shaw. Freed from the constraints of a war film, Shaw is able to display a much wider range as an actor than we normally see and it is easy to see why some have called this his best performance.

As Lady Franklin re-emerges into society, the hypocrisies and deceptions of the English class system loom into view. Bridges is careful not to reveal too much too quickly, and the story builds slowly but relentlessly towards a conclusion that can only be disastrous. The story is every bit as tense as a Hollywood blockbuster, but in a completely different way, relying on observation of society and character. Masterful - Bridges won the Palme D'Or at the 1973 Cannes film festival for this film.
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on 25 November 2014
This is the story if a woman who, devastated by the death of her husband, emerges from a care home full of pain, having had some sort of a breakdown and the fear she has, as she faces life without him.

She's driven home by a driver in his hire car and begins to find her strength and peace of mind, when she hires him to take her out and about in his car.

Clearly she becomes fond of the man and he of her, but his feelings become magnified and when they're not fully recipricated his anger reveals itself.

Fine performances from both Robert Shaw, as the driver and Sarah Miles, as the aristocratic woman who inadvertantly wins his heart.

The film is very understated, but in this instance, less is more.

Sarah Miles's portrayal of the grieving widow in the early stages of the film and her devastation at her great loss, has always stayed with me.

In many ways, this is a film about class and how it separated and divided people in England at the time. It's a portrait of an era and a picture of two lost, lonely people who find each other, but when one of them moves on, the other can't contain his grief and rage.

Highly recommended.
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on 19 September 2013
Quality acting from Shaw and Miles, capturing the class divide that allows friendship but prevents any chance of romance, demonstrating that breeding, education and social position but not wealth is the prerequisite to be truly invited as an potential life partner in the world of the titled rich.
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on 5 February 2013
Great British actors handling a touchy subject, stick with it you never know. Period scenes and morales of the time make this movie
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on 24 August 2013
I'm fond of both Robert Shaw and his co-star in this but though well acted, Shaw wore out my empathy for his character.
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on 30 December 2013
For Lovers Of Robert Shaw Or Sarah Miles An Absolute Treat. A Sleeper That Needs To Be In Your Collection.
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on 3 May 2015
Entertaining and well acted. If you enjoyed the book (I loved it) you'll enjoy this version.
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on 3 September 2014
Good story, good acting, worth watching...
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