A Month by the Lake (1995) / Romance-Comedy
MPAA Rated: PG for some sensuality
Running Time: 92 min.
Cast: Vanessa Redgrave, Edward Fox, Uma Thurman, Alida Valli, Alessandro Gassman, Carlo Cartier
Director: John Irvin
Screenplay: Trevor Bentham
Based on the novel by H.E. Bates, A Month by the Lake derives most of its pleasures around the likeability of its stars and situations. It's not quite up to the period piece standards set by the Merchant-Ivory camp, as the cinematography isn't quite the quality you'd expect in a Miramax release. But it also has Vanessa Redgrave in a role that explores her talents in comedy, and that alone makes this worth a look for her fans.
Redgrave plays Miss Bentley, who spends a little time each year in a small seaside town in Italy by Lake Como. The year is 1937, and this time out there are fewer of her English cohorts around than she is accustomed to, but there is one man who catches her eye, Major Wilshaw. He's retired from the military, but well-to-do in industry, and although he takes well to Miss Bentley's attentions initially, soon his own attentions turn to the much younger nanny in the villa, an American named Miss Beaumont (Thurman). Miss Bentley has other schemes on catching her man, though, and the battle for the major's heart is on.
A Month by the Lake is a hit-and-miss endeavor, not really as good or substantial as you might surmise from the storyline, but it has an amiability that keeps you from minding. Redgrave is endearing in the lead role, and while some of the attempts at humor are hackneyed at times, watching her go through the motions only makes you like her more. Edward Fox isn't the best one could have hoped for as her potential love interest, but he grows on you, although one wonders what either women would ever see in him to bother vying for his attention. Seeing as most people will pick this up for Uma Thurman, I would leave it only to her die-hard fans, as she isn't in the movie as much as the cover would lend you to believe, and quite frankly, she isn't very good in it.
It's a fluffy endeavor, as relaxing as spending some time at a resort by the lake would be, but if you just want to enjoy some light romance, A Month by the Lake should be worth your time.
© 2003 Vince Leo