Reviewed byl_rawjalaurenceVote: 9/10/10
Although I did not expect it, I found LIFE IN SQUARES to be aremarkable piece of television drama, offering insights into the livesof the Bloomsbury Group that I had never previously thought of.
The title is a clever one, suggesting the bourgeois existence of theStephen sisters Virginia and Vanessa (played by Lydia Leonard, EveBest, Phoebe Fox, and Catherine McCormack across the three-episodestructure) where they grew up in luxury, but also denotingimprisonment, both mental and emotional. David Roger's productiondesigns, with elegant rooms heavily over-stuffed with curios of allhistorical periods, restrict the actors' freedom of movement; they areforced to move round chairs, or negotiate too many ornaments. When theBloomsbury Group meet for their regular soirées, they do so in small,confined rooms, with little room to breathe.
This kind of goldfish-bowl lifestyle inevitably has a significanteffect on the Group's life-choices. While dedicating themselves toideals of artistic purity that transcend the mundane concerns of earlytwentieth century Britain, we wonder whether that represents nothingmore than a form of futile release from conformity. This is especiallysummed up in Vanessa Bell's checkered career; a talented artist in herown right, she becomes so much subject to her husband Clive's (SamHoare/ Andrew Havill's) bidding that she ends up losing her artisticwill. She embarks on a long-term relationship with Duncan Grant (JamesNorton/ Rupert Penry-Jones), but finds little emotional satisfactionthere - despite his undying devotion to her, he remains a professedhomosexual.
Virginia experiences equal pains. We know from the start that she ismentally fragile, but it seems that her sister's overbearing nature,coupled with the prevailing ideology that all wives should havechildren at that time, pushes her into marriage with Leonard Woolf (AlWeaver. Guy Henry), Although the two enjoy a tranquil and oftenfulfilling life, it is not what Virginia wants. She tries to findsolace in her writing, but even that is not enough to prevent her fromcommitting suicide at the outbreak of World War II. From this drama, weget the sense of terrible sorrow that such an innovator should havefelt so hemmed in by social and mental pressures that she should takeher own life.
The sisters' existence does not change, even when they sacrifice Londonfor the country, and Vanessa's family moves into Charleston, anidealized retreat still open to general visitors. Life there becomeseven more claustrophobic, especially when Duncan's boyfriend DavidGarnett (aka Bunny) (Ben Lloyd-Hughes/ Jack Davenport) moves in.Vanessa is often forced into the role of unwilling peacemaker; atlength she ends up doing something that she felt she must do, but endsup causing her lasting mental pain and suffering.
What makes LIFE IN SQUARES such a game-changing piece is that itssympathy extends to male and female characters alike. Would-be criticslike Roger Fry (Elliott Cowan) are trying to make their way in theworld as they pronounce on the effect of Modernism on the post-1918universe, but they appear to lack the conviction to do so. This ischiefly due to their environment; the hothouse world of London (andprovincial) society is so insulated from from worldly affairs that itends up feeding on itself.
Brilliantly directed by Simon Kaijser from a script by Amanda Coe, LIFEIN SQUARES offers important material for reflection on the power aswell as the limitations of the imagination, and how we must remainmindful of ourselves and our well-being rather than subjectingourselves to the often restrictive dictates of prevailingsocio-economic convention.
Reviewed bySindre KaspersenVote: 8/10/10
Swedish television and film director Simon Kaijser's televisionminiseries which was written by English author and screenwriter AmandaCoe, is inspired by real events which took place in England in theearly 20th century. It premiered on English television in 2015, wasshot on locations in England and is a UK production which was producedby producer Rhonda Smith. It tells the story about atwenty-three-year-old author who was born in Kensington, Middlesex,London in England in the early 1880s.
Distinctly and precisely directed by Swedish filmmaker Simon Kaijser,this quietly paced and somewhat fictional tale which is narrated by andmostly from the main characters' viewpoints, draws a perspicaciousportrayal of a twenty-six-year-old sister. While notable for itsdistinctly atmospheric milieu depictions, cinematography bycinematographer Allan Almond, production design by production designerDavid Roger and costume design by costume designer Claire Anderson,this dialog-driven and narrative-driven story about English historywhich was made a century after an English painter named Vanessa StephenBell (1879-1961) and a Scottish painter from Rothiemurchus, Aviemore,Scotland named Duncan Grant (1885-1978) arrived in Charleston, Sussex,England (1916), depicts several interrelated studies of character andcontains a great and timely score by composer Edmund Butt.
This conversational and cinematographic retelling which is set inEngland in the early 20th century more than a century after aphotograph called "Julia Jackson" (1867) and where poets and painterscreate a group, is impelled and reinforced by its cogent narrativestructure, substantial character development, rhythmic continuity,comment by Leonard: "Our whiff of shot in the cause of freedom." andthe reverent acting performances by English actresses Lydia Leonard,Phoebe Fox, Catherine McCormack and Eve Best. An androgynousminiseries.
Reviewed byPrismark10Vote: 3/10/10
Life in Squares is a confusing and dull three part period drama aboutthe tangled love affairs of the Bloomsbury Group.
Virginia (Lydia Leonard) married Leonard Woolf (Al Weaver) who soonrealises that she is mentally fragile, while her sister Vanessa (PhoebeFox) turned her affections towards Duncan Grant (James Norton) whoteams up with her and his male lover. In fact Grant is the love andleave em kind when it comes to male relationships.
As the drama progresses the younger actors are replaced by an older setof actors and the Bloomsbury group attitude towards free love andcreativity gets bleaker as World War Two approaches and losses arefelt.
Amanda Coe's script was not easy to follow and seemed sparse whichexplains why I felt bored and listless.
Scandinavian director Simon Kaijser goes for Nordic noir pacing and amurky look which did not work for this three parter that needed to befaster moving and brighter.
An intimate and emotional drama for BBC Two about the revolutionary Bloomsbury group.