Posts Tagged ‘NHS’

Poppy Shakespeare (2008)

In based on novel, Recommendation, Review on 10/04/2012 at 4:42 pm

Ever been afraid you’d accidentally get locked into a mental institution? After this you might.

Poppy Shakespeare tells the story of two young women: Poppy (Naomie Harris) and N (Anna Maxwell Martin). N has been in the loony bin for thirteen years and she’s terrified to be declared sane, so she does everything in her power to remain mad. Poppy is a beautiful independent young mum who just lost her job. A freak administrative accident sends the perfectly sane and quite glamorous Poppy into the world of the dribbling insane. In order to prove her sanity, she will first need to get ‘mad money’, for which she will have to be proven mentally ill first.

This story, based on the Clare Allan novel, necessarily presupposes a daunting reality in which there really is no escape from the system. Although this seems almost dystopian, in this case it isn’t at al far fetched. Poppy’s despair is terribly realistic, and the way N’s reality, which is very far away from hers, is forced upon her only makes her experience more intense.

For N everything changes when Poppy comes into her life. As they develop an awkward but real sort of friendship, N struggles between doing everything to keep Poppy by her side (in the mental institution) and helping her to get out. It takes her too long to see when Poppy has stopped pretending to be mad, to see that her life is actually falling to pieces and she can’t cope.

Poppy Shakespeare is a times very funny, but it’s essentially a deeply tragic story. It’s a beautiful one too and there is no other way of telling it, so no comments there. What probably makes it powerful is that absolutely any viewer can relate to Poppy, and this could happen in almost any country, regardless of regime, or your age, race or sex.

The quite exceptional Anna Maxwell Martin won a BAFTA for her part as N in this Channel 4 drama.



Call the Midwife (2012)

In BBC, new, period drama, Recommendation, Review, series on 28/02/2012 at 10:13 pm

Don’t really care for watching a series about midwifery and babies? No, me neither.

This is an exception, though. One of those exceptions that led me to starting this blog in the first place: it transcends its genre (historical drama) and its theme (midwifery) with striking ease. Call the Midwife is a perfectly subtle, meaningful and very charming story about (mainly two) women who happen to be midwives London’s East End in the 1950s.

The young middle-class innocent new midwife Jenny Lee (Jessica Raine) starts work in one of the poorest and filthiest areas of London and she’s soon confronted with what poverty looks and smells like. This is just after WWII and the east of the city is still in ruins. These midwives provide life-saving care for the poor and are the beginning of what the NHS is now. It’s also the 1950s of course, and this drama nicely handles all the questions around the position of women as well as class without rubbing it in your face in any sort of annoying way.

It ticks all the boxes on engaging writing, good acting, brilliant production design and originality. Also look out for the voice of  Vanessa Redgrave and a great performance from (in her first more serious role) Miranda Hart.