Page 8 --The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, November 14,1989
Too much baggage
Shirley Valentine takes a trip to superficiality
BY BRENT EDWARDS
It can be difficult to transfer a story from theater to
cinema because plays typically have a small number of
sets and are more dialogue-oriented than their visual
counterpart. In order to keep the film from seeming vi-
sually static and "stagey," the action in the movie is
usually moved to a number of different settings, since
one of the advantages of film is its mobility in time and
place. In Shirley Valentine, one other change is made
in the adaptation, and that is the addition of characters
- the stage version was a one-woman show.
The movie recreates this solo characteristic by con-
tinuing to have Shirley speak to the audience. It is a lit-
tle disarming at first to have Shirley look directly at the
camera and start talking, but this quickly lets us get
close to her wonderful personality. Pauline Collins,
who was so charming as Sarah in Upstairs, Down-
stairs, is equally as endearing here as she recreates her
Tony-winning performance. Shirley is a housewife
who, at the age of 42, realizes that her life isn't any-
thing like what she had always wanted it to be: her mar-
riage, her ambition, and in fact the Shirley she once was
died years ago. Now the most excitement she gets out
of life is violating her husband's Steak On Thursday
rule and serving it to him 15 minutes after his usual
time. This is a shame because Shirley is an absolute
In the first half of the movie, she tells us about her
life; we see that she is a very caring, energetic, and
witty person. In describing her snobbish neighbor, she
says, "...if you've been to Paradise, Gillian's got a sea-
son ticket... If you've got a headache, Gillian's got a
brain tumor." With this near-constant narrative we be-
come Shirley's friend and confidante, learning how she
desires an escape from her uncaring family and bleak
life. Collin's portrayal of the uneducated but bitingly
perceptive Shirley is full of warmth, which makes her
occasional admittance of despair all the more painful.
When Shirley travels to Greece with a friend, things
start looking up for Shirley and looking down for the
audience - the film begins to drag. Shirley's entertain-
ing narrative becomes scarce as cardboard characters take
a more important part in the picture. Their unrealistic
portrayals may have been acceptable when recounted by
Shirley onstage, but their realizations on screen are not
very amusing, including the ultimate Greek stereotype
played by Tom Conti. It would have been far more in-
teresting to have Shirley just tell us what happened us-
ing her unique viewpoint than to actually watch it hap-
pen. The attempt to expand the story for the film
medium backfires: the inclusion of the other characters
make the film less, not more, entertaining. Shirley
Valentine is still a smart and funny film, with a mes-
sage that director Lewis Gilbert said before in his bril-
liant Educating Rita: if you get stuck in a track of life
you don't like, you car .hange it if you let yourself.
It's just too bad Shirley didn't tell more of it herself.
SHIRLEY VALENTINE is showing at Briarwood.
Pauline Collins, who reprises her stage role in Shirley Valentine, is burdene
are supposed flesh out the stage version's one-woman show.
Continued from page 7
roughs mutters about four words
which amount to "no one loves me,
and t don't care" and Zod Tamerlaine
says in that pretentious way she cul-
tivates, "I've never gone out on a
date - I don't know what one is."
The biggest problem of Heavy
Petting, though, is that Benz does
not try to interpret the stories and
films in relation to how our attitudes
have evolved since. By letting the
interviews and films just sit there,
Benz leaves them lifeless, and the
montages of those corny films look
like Buddy Holly music videos. The
final problem is that the people cho-
sen are from completely different age
groups, and so their experiences
don't mesh - John Oates does not
have much to say in relation to why
Allan Ginsberg is who he is.
The most interesting thing about
the film, even with all of these
drawbacks, is that we see, once
again, how the repressed and hypo-
critical postwar America inspired the
mass correction of sexual mores in
ad with cardboard characters that
the late '60s. There are some won"
derful quotes as "moral decay caused'
16 of the 19 major civilizations to,
vanish," and "the moral weaknesso
leaves us open to the communist6
masters of deceit." It may leave us=
happy that will live in a kindler andA
gentler nation, but it doesn't add,
much to the retrospective criticism
that we've seen a lot of recently.
So maybe for some people, those...
who saw these propaganda<films.
when in high school, Heavy Petting4
has some value. For the rest of us
it's a hodgepodge of the Soho art
scene talking about sex before they
became the Soho art scene.
HEAVY PETTING is showing at
Ann Arbor1 & 2.
4 I6wasnt rubbing
it i- just wanted
Eddie to know
the score of
last night's game?
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Go ahead and gloat. You can
rub it in all the way to Chicago
with AT&T Long Distance Service.
y Besides, your best friend Eddie
.t was the one who said your team
could never win three straight.
So give him a call. It costs a
lot less than you think to let him
know who's headed for the Playoffs.
SReachout and touch someone.*
If you'd like to know more about
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products or services, including the
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University of Michigan AT&T
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Alex Sum-"University of Washington-Class of 1990