The British Film Collection [DVD Box Set]
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This DVD boxed set includes Jane Eyre, Quartet, Unfinished Song and Ladies in Lavendar all in one collection.
The funny and uplifting story of Arthur (Terence Stamp), a curmudgeon old soul perfectly content with sticking to his dull daily routine until his beloved wife (Vanessa Redgrave) introduces him to a spirited local singing group led by the youthful and charming Elizabeth (Gemma Arterton).
Beecham House is abuzz. The rumor circling the halls is that the home for retired musicians is soon to play host to a new resident. Word is, it's a star. For Reginald Paget (Tom Courtenay), Wilfred Bond (Billy Connolly) and Cecily Robson (Pauline Collins) this sort of talk is par for the course at the gossipy home. But they're in for a special shock when the new arrival turns out to be none other than their former singing partner, Jean Horton (Maggie Smith). Her subsequent career as a star soloist, and the ego that accompanied it, split up their long friendship and ended her marriage to Reggie, who takes the news of her arrival particularly hard. Can the passage of time heal old wounds? And will the famous quartet be able to patch up their differences in time for Beecham House's gala concert?
Ladies in Lavender
Two sisters whose quiet lives dramatically change when they discover Andrea, a badly-injured young foreigner washed ashore near their coastal home in pre-war England. Nursing Andrea back to health appeals to Janet's more maternal instincts, but for Ursula, the young man's presence evokes an indefinable longing for a life not lived.
Charlotte Brontë's Victorian romance is no stranger to the silver screen, but Sin Nombre director Cary Fukunaga's affecting and beautifully mounted adaptation is among the best. Sometimes, casting can make all the difference. In this case, Australia's Mia Wasikowska (Alice in Wonderland) plays the determined Jane Eyre opposite Ireland's Michael Fassbender (Fish Tank) as the world-weary Edward Rochester (neither actor betrays their country of origin). Fukunaga begins with Jane's escape from Rochester's High Gothic Thornfield Hall before flashing back to the days when the plainspoken orphan lived with her cruel and resentful aunt (an unsympathetic Sally Hawkins).
The aunt ships her off to a loveless charity school, where she still manages to receive a fine education, after which she lands a position as governess for Rochester's ward, Adèle. Though his housekeeper (Dame Judi Dench, excellent) makes Jane feel welcome, the brooding Rochester attempts to mock and demean her, but the quick-witted 19-year-old can hold her own. What might offend a more superficial man intrigues her employer (played by a gent more handsome than the author intended). Sparks fly, but he expresses greater interest in a local beauty.
Just as Jane finally pierces Rochester's armor, she discovers his terrible secret, and hits the road. She meets a kindly missionary (Jamie Bell) and his sweet sisters, who offer her the family she never had, before a sequence of well-plotted developments allow Jane to forge her own future. For once, no one can stop her, making for a swoon-worthy, if bittersweet conclusion. --Kathleen C. Fennessy
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