Saturday, 21 April 2012

Film Review: THE CEMENT GARDEN (1993)

The Cement Garden - poster Director: Andrew Birkin
Writers: Andrew Birkin, Ian McEwan (Novel)
Running Time: 105 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): 18

Genre: Drama
USA Release Date: 11th February 1994

Watched on Sky+ Saturday 21st April 2012.


It wasn’t until I started watching it that I realised I had seen this film before. My recollections of it were a little hazy and so I carried on, and I’m glad I did! This is quite an interesting film with a lot to say about coming of age, loss and even incest. These are themes that wouldn’t usually pull me towards a film but the more I watched, the more compelling it became. But I digress; I’ll give you my thoughts after this very brief summary.

The Cement Garden - 6 When a family loses its father, it’s pretty sad; but when they also lose the mother a few weeks later, it becomes a problem. Thus is what happens to Jack, Julie, Sue and Tom, both parents die within a few weeks and, not wishing to end up in care, Jack and Julie decide to bury their mother in the cellar. They try to carry on as normal, but Jack has just turned 16 and is a typical teenager, if a bit of a loner. Julie is slightly older and a bit of a flirt… particularly with Jack. Sue is always reading or writing in her diary and Tom, the youngest; well let’s just say he misses his mother. Jack is clearly attracted to Julie but as she’s his sister he tries to hide it. Things all come to a head when Julie brings back her friend, the much older Derek, who seems to be bothered by an odd smell coming from the cellar. I will leave it there or the Spoiler Police will be picking out a plot for me in my cellar (again).

The Cement Garden - 2 It is filmed with a very stark feeling to it which matches the landscape in which the family live. It appears to be the run-down edge of a town where many of the buildings have been knocked down. The young cast all did an excellent job, particularly Andrew Robertson as Jack and Charlotte Gainsbourg as Julie. Alice Coulthard as Sue and Ned Birkin as Tom were also very good. Honourable mentions go to; Sinéad Cusack as Mother, Hanns Zischler as Father and Jochen Horst as Derek.

The Cement Garden - 4 I wasn’t too sure about this one at first, but as it went on I found it more and more compelling. The sexual tension between Jack and Julie comes across really well and this really gives the film an edge. I did find it quite gritty in places and I was a bit surprised at the way the kids reacted when their mother suddenly died. It’s not perfect by any means, but even so, if the themes don’t put you off, it’s still a worthy watch… Recommended.

My Score: 7.9/10

IMDb Score: 7.1/10 (based on 2,349 votes at the time of going to press).

Rotten Tomatoes ‘Tomatometer’ Score: 100/100 (based on 7 reviews counted at the time of going to press).

Rotten Tomatoes ‘Audience’ Score: 57/100 “Want to see” (based on 2,262 user ratings counted at the time of going to press).

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The Cement Garden - 3 FAVOURITE QUOTES:
Julie: Girls can wear jeans and cut their hair short, wear shirts and boots, because it's OK to be a boy, but for a boy to look like a girl is degrading, because you think that being a girl is degrading. But secretly you'd love to know what it's like, wouldn't you? What it feels like for a girl?

Commander Hunt: There is nothing ugly, I never saw an ugly thing in my life, for let the shape of an object be as they may: light, shade and perspective will always make it beautiful.

(Note: All were working at the time of going to press)

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