"Capturing Mary" (A Review In Kind)

As grammar is one of my strong suits, I have decided to become a 1950s gossip journalist. This blog is now only going to be filled with amazing tales of glamour and celebrity.

Yesterday, with the sun setting orangily across a mild Autumnal night, as I was crossing Hungerford Bridge in London’s fashionable South Bank district, I passed the legendary film actor Mr Dustin Hoffman. Mr Dustin Hoffman! And that was but the start of it!

I was perambulating across the river on the way to the National Film Theatre where I was attending a screening of a film that my friend Ms H* is in. Ms H was late, due to the fact that she was doing something or other of great glamour and importance**. I bartered with the box office staff, they gave me one of our two allotted tickets and said that I should go in in case the film started. It was a preview of a film that is going to be on the BBC – written and directed by Mr Stephen Poliakoff, with Ms Maggie Smith, Ms Ruth Wilson (the one with the extraordinary mouth who was in Jane Eyre) and – bizarrely – Mr David Walliams.

I entered the theatre and some man-jack was sitting in our seats, so I said “Excuse me, I think I’m supposed to be sitting there”, and they started to gather their things together. It was then that I realised I was moving Mr Walliams himself! Calamity! I still made him move regardless. I sat down next to the girl that Mr Walliams had been delightfully chatting with and said “Whoops, I just moved Mr David Walliams” and then bumbled on for a bit about that being something of a faux pas. It should also be mentioned at this point that I was carrying a Morrison’s bag containing a crumpled suit, so I didn’t exactly look prepared for high art.

Then Ms H came and greeted the girl next to me, as she was also in the film. Another hilarious faux pas!

The film was quite long and preposterous – at points unbearably tense, at other points rather crass and camp. This isn’t helped by Mr Walliams being in it. Mr Walliams plays a sinister sociopath, with several haunting moments where his large face stares ominously into the auditorium, intoning something drastic and dramatic. He also makes a salad. Much like Mr Kelly, it is difficult to know how to take a figure traditionally associated with light entertainment as a sinister figure – to my knowledge, Mr Benny Hill never played Iago, and with good reason. Ms Smith is splendid in it, though. The story is told in flashbacks, with Ms Smith narrating it to a charming Cockney lad and it gets a bit clogged up with exposition. Anyway, the film is going to be on the BBC, you can sample its delights yourself then if you wish. It is called “Capturing Mary”.

During the film, I recognise an actress playing a confidante of Mr Walliams, but I am unsure from whence. (From where? From whence? I am unsure of the correct formation.) As the lights go up in the theatre at the end of the cinematograph, I realise that I am sitting next to the actress in question. Troisieme faux pas! Her name is Ms Gemma Arterton, and she is soon to be in the new St Trinians film, god bless her.

Messers Poliakoff, Wilson, Walliams and the aforementioned charming Cockney then assemble at the front of the stage for a question and answer session. Little of note is said, although apparently it was very good that the actors were “in the moment” at seemingly all moments. How they managed that is quite beyond me. How brave! In fact, the only revelation is that the Cockney lad in real life is not a Cockney at all but a very well-spoken young man. What an actor! Mr Walliams stares at me throughout, as if ominously intoning “You stole my chair. You stole my chair.” The effect was quite sinister, but then perhaps he was just creating in his mind a new sketch for his “Little Britain” entertainment where someone asks someone to move in a cinema and the person who sits in the chair finds it is made of sick.

Mr Walliams did not, however, make a salad.

After this bijou dollop of insight into the film, we were afforded a further… a further dollop, I suppose, in the form of a short film starring the mouth and indeed the rest of the person of Ms Wilson. For fans of Ms Wilson, Ms Wilson’s mouth, Dalmatians, and china trinkets, this short comes highly recommended. For fans of logic, perhaps not so.

Anyway, it rounded off a perfectly splendid evening of Poliakoffanalia. The mildness of the evening translated perfectly into the mildness of my affections for each of the films! Would that every Autumnal night were blessed with such a cinematic decoupage of delight!

* This is how they refer to people in these sorts of things, isn’t it?
** The District Line was down.