Film:  Guilty Pleasures

Year:  2010

Director:  Julie Moggan

Bonus:  Q & A with Julie Moggan

Venue:  Curzon, Soho

Other Info:

I arrived at the (Soho) Curzon, awaited my friend’s arrival and also waited for reality to set in.

What had I let myself come and see? This was not a man’s film – not that there should really be “a man’s film” and “a woman’s film” these days but hey, slightly nervously anticipate it I did.

Rather than purchase a Harlequin book (think Mills & Boon) I bought a kind of girlie drink instead. So, with my lime & soda in hand I looked forward.

Looking forward I did…and some film or TV people talked opposite me in the bar area. Speaking of adapting a book, I believe. Ironic? Not really…Guilty Pleasures is ‘about’ a certain range of books and not an adaptation of one but well, interesting nonetheless (you may or may not say!)

My friend arrived. Coffee was purchased…and bums were seated.

(Can you read that? Actually, I had captured this wording from a previous visit…Spooky…)

The screen quoted “Curzon – DocDays”… Yes DocDays being short for Documentary Days (indeed I am well educated…well, err…)

A brief intro and then into Guilty Pleasures. Myself and friend were taken in from the very start…and my fears of this film being one for women ‘only’ disappeared immediately.

We firstly meet a male – I won’t give away his age – who, sat at a typewriter, taps away whilst we hear his voice narrating such words you would read, should you have ever picked up a Mills & Boon book. This writer’s narration mixed with his actions ends this brief scene comically. We were indeed hooked.

Other characters we are then introduced to are a Japanese lady (and later her husband), an Indian woman, an English couple and a male model – for the latter, think a Mills & Boon book cover.

Each of these characters has their own charm and endearment. We warm to them, no matter how different and removed they may be from the audience’s lives. Definitely unrelatable to mine – I tried but I just couldn’t connect. That doesn’t mean I disliked the characters or not engage. No. We are all very different beings…is all I’m trying to say.

The funniest characters but also perhaps the warmest are English Phil & wife, Shirley. Phil being a “man’s man” [his words, not mine] but at the same time coming across as a romantic man. Romantic in his eyes, you understand. He thinks that repeating the same actions & type of gifts year after year was romantic a gesture as one could give. I was shouting to myself “Where’s your originality? Where’s your variety?!” [but Shirley seems to accept it and even like it]

A classic moment, to me was where Phil was saying that he doesn’t understand men who have to read a handbook just to hammer a nail in a wall to hang up a picture…going on, reiterating the fact that he does everything himself and wants to learn how everything works, hence calling himself a man’s man. Whilst saying this Phil is dressing for Valentines Day by clipping on – not tying! – a tie for the dinner. Classic. He’s obviously not learned how to do ‘everything’ now, has he..? Come on, Phil!

I must also add that Phil’s dress sense needed much improvement. He is seen wearing, for Valentine’s Day a black tie and White shirt – I seriously thought he was dressing for a funeral.

And…perhaps I have watched too much Alan Partridge but there is indeed a scene and shot or two where Phil’s mannerisms are Perfectly-Partridge-Esque.

We also have the male model, Stephen. Buff he may be, but Muff he would seem not interested in. Excuse the crudity of that pun but he was very camp and throughout the film, up until near the end, myself and my friend were almost convinced that he was homosexual.

Shumita, the Indian woman? She longs to get back with her husband and finally when we meet him we are soon realising that we no longer feel sorry for ‘them’ but only for her.

The Japanese lady (Hiroko) is almost re-enacting an actual Mills & Boon story, with her almost lust for her dancing tutor. Perhaps not ultimate lust but the longing to be lead the way, both in dancing & seduction and maybe in life itself.

That’s my mini-breakdown of highlights and much more, I’d say than I normally like to give away in a film review. But hey, this is a documentary.

The Q & A:

Director Julie Moggan mentioned, when talking about the lengthy [2 years!] it took to make, that it was featured in 2010’s London Film Festival. She discussed the main arc and the one most like a Mills & Boon book…this arc being the Japanese woman’s story. She talked about the ‘stars’ and their feelings on how they were portrayed. There was minimal manipulation in this doc, she also confirmed.

On the whole, and in summary I have to say that it could be anyone’s fantasies told in these stories – even mine – because… not everyone’s love life is an open book.

And now…To put my feet up…

Note: Guilty Pleasures was later [12th April 2011] shown on More4 and perhaps it will again.