Monday, 3 July 2017

The Girl in a Swing - film review

Long before The Girl on the Train, there was The Girl in a Swing. This was a  novel, the fourth by Richard Adams, famed as author of Watership Down. In 1988, it became a film which is the subject of this review - but in this movie, there's not a rabbit in sight. It's really a horror story with erotic elements, and a few supernatural touches.

Alan Desland (played by Rupert Frazer) is a posh young antiques dealer. Good-looking and well-mannered, he is attractive to women, but when a pretty girl throws herself at him, he's not interested. There's something repressed about him, but he begins to lose his inhibitions while on a trip to Copenhagen, when he falls head over with a young German secretary (Meg Tilly).

The girl is rather mysterious, but she falls for Alan, and agrees to marry him. However, she disappoints him by refusing to marry in church, and there are other odd aspects to her behaviour. After early mishaps, their sex life becomes increasingly adventurous, but a sequence of strange little incidents causes Alan understandable concern. What exactly is going on only becomes apparent late in the film, and the explanation pulls the various story strands together reasonably well.

It also makes it easier to understand why Alan's character is key to the storyline. I have to say I found him distinctly lacking in charisma, though the same cannot be said of his co-star, Meg Tilly. Nicholas Le Prevost, a dependable actor, plays the part of Alan's best friend, who happens to be a vicar, and there's a role for Jean Boht, whose husband Carl Davis wrote the soundtrack. Quite watchable, and although scarcely a classic comparable to Watership Down, I rather admire Adams for trying something so very different.


Anonymous said...

I read The Girl in a Swing when I was in my late 20s, shortly after it was first published. I was very taken with the erie elements of the story, and still remember the shiver of revelation created by Adams. I still own my copy of the novel, but have never re-read it, fearing I might find it tedious and dull after all these years. But perhaps I'll give it a try. I think I'll skip the movie, however. I have never found Meg Tilly appealing, and to my mind she does not embody the Käthe I still vividly remember.

Martin Edwards said...

Interesting! Thanks for your comment.

Clothes In Books said...

Exactly like your first commenter, I read the book in my 20s and still get a frisson when I think about it: it was a very well-done tale. He created an atmosphere of unease which grew and grew, ending in some memorable scenes. And in our house the words 'green turtle' are still full of meaning - did that feature in the film?
Never saw it, and it might be better to stick with the memories of the book.

Martin Edwards said...

It did feature, but in a somewhat vague way, I thought! If you enjoyed the book a lot, the perhaps you're right to stick with it, is my feeling.