RETURN OF THE SOLDIER, THE
(director: Alan Bridges; screenwriters: story by Rebecca West/Hugh Whitemore; cinematographer: Stephen Goldblatt; editor: Laurence Méry-Clark; music: Richard Rodney Bennett; cast: Alan Bates (Capt. Chris Baldry), Glenda Jackson (Margaret Gray), Julie Cristie (Kitty Baldry), Ann-Margret (Jenny Baldry), Ian Holm (Dr. Gilbert Anderson); Runtime: 102; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Simon Relph/Ann Skinner; European Classics Video; 1982-UK)
“The costumes are marvelous.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Alan Bridges directs this overwrought drama adapted from a Rebecca West novel. Most soldiers who go off to war return, and when they do many suffer because the place they left behind has changed or they have. In this war tale the returning WW1 soldier Alan Bates is suffering from shell-shock and has become an amnesia victim, who has forgotten everything–even his long-term marriage to the aristocratic Julie Christie. He revives his stifling marriage with the uncaring but social status driven Julie, unaware of his spinsterish adoring cousin Ann-Margret’s secret love for him. There is also the dowdy Glenda Jackson his childhood sweetheart, and now his only hope for salvation. Well, what’s a guy to do surrounded by all these gals? That pulpish theme is what it’s all about. Bates goes from trench warfare to a stiff marriage with the weight of the past on his frail shoulders, and he’s led to seek comfort in the arms of Glenda. It then is up to shrink Ian Holm to sort out this arrangement of Bates and his three chicks, as it winds down to its unsubstantial resolution. Nothing really happens that matters in this tale depicting upper class life, but the picture is lush, the acting is grand, and the costumes are marvelous.
REVIEWED ON 1/17/2004 GRADE: C+