Perambulating the Bounds

Saturday, August 05, 2006

The Fallen Idol

A very fine film at the Belcourt this week that you might overlook, The Fallen Idol, a 1948 film by Carol Reed with a screenplay by Graham Greene, starring Ralph Richardson. In short, the story takes place in the French Embassy in London, where the head butler (Richardson) is in love with a French typist on the staff but married to the head housekeeper. He's also buddies with the ambassador's young son, who ends up in the middle of this triangle, aware and unaware at the same time of what's going on. I don't think I should go into the plot details too much. The whole thing is very well done, for instance in the way several critical plot developments don't lead to the obvious places but still drive the plot. It also has this Graham Greene sourness -- things end up well inspite of bad things happening, although the twists that deliver the characters from the worst possible outcomes don't exactly deliver them free of damage. And one of the keys is the tension between whether one should tell the truth or keep one's secrets. The boy is tutored in this by the various adult characters, who push and pull him between those who tell him he must tell the truth and others who tell him he must keep secrets, and in the end he finds himself trying to tell the truth but getting ignored because the larger truth has already been established, and his little truth would actually lead people away from the truth. A very confusing place for a young boy to find himself.


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