DENNIS SCHWARTZ 
IS THERE ANY GOOD 
IN SAYING 
EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?

 
L-SHAPED ROOM (director/writer: Bryan Forbes; screenwriter: from the novel Lynne Reid Banks; cinematographer: Douglas Slocombe; editor:  Anthony Harvey; music:  John Barry; cast: Leslie Caron (Jane Fosset), Brock Peters (Johnny), Tom Bell (Toby), Cicely Courtneiege (Mavis), Avis Bunnage (Doris, landlady), Bernard Lee (Charlie), Patricia Phoenix (Sonia), Gerry Duggan (Bert), Emlyn Williams (Dr. Weaver); Runtime: 125; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: James Woolf/Richard Attenborough; Columbia; 1962-UK)

 
"Caron's heartfelt, out of type, performance as the lonely lady in trouble, makes the sensitive pic, a mixture of muddle and insight, watchable."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Overlong and turgid, but well-made and mature treatment of melodrama for the early 1960s. It was treated by the public, at the time, as sensationalist. British New Wave filmmaker Bryan Forbes ("Whistling Down the Wind"/"King Rat"/"Seance on a Wet afternoon") directs and writes a realistic kitchen sink modern urban drama based on the novel by Lynne Reid Banks. It was shot in black-and-white.

The virgin 27-year-old Frenchwoman, Jane Fosset (Leslie Caron), leaves her parents' provincial home and moves to London. She spends a weekend having casual sex with an unemployed actor and later discovers she's pregnant. Frustrated and without much bread, Jane rents a squalid L-shaped room in a seedy Notting Hill boardinghouse from the abrasive landlady (Avis Bunnage). The low-class lodgers include a screwed-up gay West Indian black jazz musician (Brock Peters); the jazz man's  best pal Toby (Tom Bell), an unpublished failed writer who will write the ensuing titled story; an elderly, lesbian, retired, vaudeville actress named Mavis (Cicely Courtneiege); and a few colorful prostitutes like Sonia (Patricia Phoenix).

Jane begins a steamy affair with Toby and hides her pregnancy in fear of losing him, but the jealous Johnny meddles and tells his boy that his lady has been knocked up by another. Toby splits, unable to stomach he's not the father. The despondent Jane goes to an oily mercenary gynecologist (Emlyn Williams), and then after deciding to keep the child decides to abort by taking an overdose of pills given her by Mavis. That fails. Jane then accepts her fate and gives birth. Toby returns, but is unable to accept the child. But he lays on Jane a copy of his first complete book. Jane returns to France and will try to find a happy ending to her story.

Caron's heartfelt, out of type, performance as the lonely lady in trouble, makes the sensitive pic, a mixture of muddle and insight, watchable.

REVIEWED ON 7/16/2013       GRADE: B-

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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