Rosamunde Pilcher's Coming Home (1998) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

Coming Home is a multi-part British TV miniseries (about three and a half hours of running time) based on a book by the queen of British romance novels, Rosamunde Pilcher. She's a little old octogenarian from Cornwall who has written approximately a gazillion of these stories under her real name as well as under the pseudonym of Jane Fraser. She started churning them out in 1949. More than fifty years later, she was still on top of the game, receiving acclaim for having written the "romance novel of the year" as recently as 2002.

Coming Home portrays several generations of an extended family during the periods immediately before, during, and immediately after WW2. Handsome men go off to war, where they promptly lose vital bodily functions, or turn up missing in action, or die. Beautiful women stay behind, tend to the home front, and mourn the loss of their men. Some of the love stories lead to tragedy, others overcome hardships and misunderstandings on the way to happiness, others lead to bittersweet conclusions. (Usual stuff. Guy is missing in action, but does finally make it home. Good news? Not entirely, because his girl thought he was dead and married another man. That sort of thing. ) I don't know much about Ms. Pilcher's life, but I reckon that this particular story has some very close parallels to her own experiences. The lead character spends the later war years serving with the Women's Royal Naval Service, as Ms Pilcher did herself.

I popped this in the DVD player assuming it would feature typically melodramatic romances in the stuffy framework of an Aunt Biddy drama. (The Royal and Ancient Broadcast Code requires all multi-generational family sagas to include a dotty Aunt Biddy.) My expectations were not entirely unfounded, but I have to say that the British certainly know how to mount a TV show. The story features Peter O'Toole as the paterfamilias, some fine young actors in support, some handsome production values, and some interesting period detail. A passing point of interest is that the main character was played by both Emily Mortimer (as a young adult) and future superstar Keira Knightley (as a teenager - pictured.)

The presentation also includes some revealing and frequent nudity from Emily Mortimer and Katie Ryder Richardson, most of it filmed in excellent light with skilled professionals behind the camera. Sweet! I would not suggest that you guys run out and rent this, but if you somehow get stuck watching it, it won't be so bad at all. I intended to fast forward to the nudity, but I actually watched the entire program, which is on two disks.

I know what you're thinking.

It's all right. I had some testosterone shots after watching this show, and then I watched some old tapes of the Ditka-era Bears.

I'm almost back to normal now, although I still can't stop saying the word "frapp," which is amazing because I have no idea what it is, or even how to pronounce it. Is it a "frap"? Is it a "frape"? Is it a "fra-PAY"?

 

DVD INFO

  • Although the press material says it is in a 1.33 A/R, that is not correct. It's sort of a semi-widescreen A/R. It's about 1.6:1. The picture of Keira Knightley above demonstrates the actual A/R. (It is letterboxed, not enhanced for 16x9 screens.)
  • There is a 27 minute documentary about the life of Rosamunde Pilcher, the woman who wrote the source novel.
  • The feature is on two disks and runs 202 minutes

NUDITY REPORT

  • Emily Mortimer - breasts in many scenes
  • Katie Ryder Richardson - full frontal and rear nudity in a skinny-dipping scene, but she is far from the camera and in constant motion.

The Critics Vote ...

  •  No major reviews online

The People Vote ...

The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-.

Based on this description, it's a C. It has the problems one would expect when a 1000 page romance novel is condensed to a three hour teleplay. Conceding those inherent liabilities, I think it was pretty decent.

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