Made in commemoration of the tenth anniversary of the Falklands War, "An Ungentlemanly Act" is a superb dramatisation of the opening event in that conflict - the Argentine invasion of the Falkland Islands, on April 2nd, 1982. The film covers the events immediately leading up to and then encompassing the invasion, and it does so initially with a light-comedy touch that is in keeping with what was a general inclination at the time to view the whole business as all rather quaint. Ian Richardson is at his most dignified as Sir Rex Hunt, Her Majesty's Governor tasked with holding this distant and unloved outpost, and Bob Peck is the earthy, gritty personification of the British fighting man in his portrayal of Major Mike Norman, the garrison commander. After the respectfully comical first half - including Argentine submarines staking out golf courses, the cheery camaraderie between the British press pack and the amiable Argentine Air Force liaison, and the amusing juxtaposition of domestic life and official business at Government House - things become more serious when the Argentines land, and the scenes depicting the battle for Government House are commendably handled. Most of the events depicted in the film have at least some grounding in actual events, including the scene where the Argentines take over the radio station, although I would argue that Mike "Last Of The Summer Wine" Grady's rather hammy delivery of radio presenter Patrick Watts' defiance is detrimental to the real-life Mr Watts' distinct lack of such dramatics. But, such is the demand of TV drama, I suppose.... Also very much a product a fact is the repellent Argentine Major Dowling, who surfaces as the occupation takes hold and whose malignant presence features in many Falklanders' accounts of those days. I imagine, however, that the Falkland Islands Defence Force would argue it gets a rough deal in this film. The forced departure of Governor Hunt and his wife, in their little red Hackney carriage, to the tones of Ian Richardson touchingly reciting the Governor's final radio broadcast, is a solemn moment that starkly depicts the fate of the Falklanders, abandoned to the mercy of Argentina and its' ruthless Junta....until the Task Force arrives. That part of the story is told in the montage that closes the film, backed by sombre music. The wry amusement has ended. Men have died.
A commendable production that avoids overt political comment in favour of the events. Required viewing for anyone with an interest in the Falklands War.
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