This is another one of those movies (this one from the BBC) that I probably wouldn’t have seen but for the fact that somebody at my local library procures things that we haven’t all already seen 12 times on commercial television. Yay Library!!
Directed by Stephen Poliakoff, “Glorious 39″ is the story of Anne Keyes (played by Romola Garai), the daughter of a British aristocrat who begins to suspect that something is really wrong with her family during the time leading up to World War II. She’s an actress with a fiance who works in the Foreign Office, two siblings who are also her friends, and a career that seems poised to take off.
Then she listens to some record albums, and that changes everything. Instead of containing old music, as the labels suggest, they’re actually recordings of secret meetings that support appeasement of Nazi Germany. Anne is horrified, especially when she begins to piece together who’s involved and why the recordings are stored in the family home.
Anne’s story is told in the present by two old men who knew her when they were children, to a younger man who’s trying to understand family history. It’s billed as a “tense psychological thriller,” but in the end, I liked the idea of it more than the actual film. I didn’t really bond with any of the characters, so I didn’t much care that some of them were pro-Nazi or anti-Anne. Since it was told in the past tense, it was hard to feel that any of it made any difference to the outcome of the war, and I didn’t think the ending really made anything much better.
Having said that, I always enjoy stories from the World War II era, and even though I was somewhat indifferent to the characters, it was still better than most of what’s on American television on a nightly basis.