Monday, January 14, 2013

another little gem of a movie: jack and sarah

Jack and Sarah is the kind of pleasant surprise of a movie that happens when you have a pretty basic and familiar rom-com script, but populate it with fabulous actors. Originally released in 1995, it was written and directed by British television director Tim Sullivan (The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes, Coronation Street), and it is apparent that it was a labor of love:
"It took Sullivan four years to make Jack and Sarah, which germinated from an experience he had when working as a director at Granada TV. 'A friend of mine's childcare arrangements broke down and his wife was away, so he brought his six-month-old baby into work,' he says. 'Until that day he had been just an ordinary bloke, but suddenly he was the centre of attention — particularly with the women. And of course, one of the first things they did was take the child off him, as though he couldn't cope. 
Jack works out how to bathe Sarah
"It just amused me — as did the fact that he immediately seemed to become more attractive to women. If you start from the basis that all men are inherently shits — which many women believe and I do myself — when you see one with a baby, he seems more vulnerable and almost like an exception to the rule. Which he isn't." — The Independent
As the story begins Jack (Richard E. Grant) and Sarah (Imogen Stubbs) are about to have a baby. Jack is a rather self-absorbed lawyer who is thrown for a loop when Sarah tragically dies in childbirth. He goes on a bender, leaving his judgmental and disapproving mother (Judi Dench) and harried father and Sarah's mother (Eileen Atkins) to care for the baby. The grandparents team up and practice some tough love, soon leaving the baby with Jack and forcing him to step up to the plate, which he does, for the most part. But when bringing little baby Sarah (who he couldn't help but name after her mother in his grief) to work with him proves problematic, he begins to search for a nanny. Enter American Amy (Samantha Mathis), who knows nothing about childcare, but forms an immediate bond with the baby girl — and maybe her father, too. Rounding out the stellar cast are Cherie Lunghi as Jack's boss and Ian McKellen as an ersatz local wino turned butler/best friend/babysitter.

Amy (Samantha Mathis) changes Sarah's diaper as her two grandmothers (Eileen Atkins and Judi Dench) and William (Ian McKellen) supervise

Sarah and Amy
The London setting adds another dimension to the story. Jack may be a lawyer, but his flat and neighborhood are artsy — full of light and space and in an interesting area. I felt like I wasn't just watching a story but spending time with some people I like, much like the Notting Hill (where some of this film was shot). Jack and Sarah is not your typical romantic comedy, and that's very good, indeed.
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