My task of trying to go into a movie with as little knowledge as humanly possible can bring up some real surprises. I’d seen the above poster and was convinced that was Richard Attenborough poking his head around the door. It does look like him? Doesn’t it? I knew it was directed by Bryan Forbes. I’d loved Seance On A Wet Afternoon and The Angry Silence. Both Dickie films with Forbes connections. Hey! he never turned up. Now I know, no disrespect, that it’s Edith Evans tentatively peering through the chain latched door.
Taglines – The Whisperers, who are they?
Also, from the title, The Whisperers, it was gonna have a spooky theme right? Whisperering ghouls within the walls or under the floorboards. Well to be honest it does have a scary theme, the fear and sadness of getting old and becoming desperately lonely. Poor Mrs Margaret Ross (Edith Evans) hears voices. Bit parts of broken whisperers of conversations coming from the walls of other tenants in her accommodation and voices in her head. It’s not helped that Mrs Ross is probably experiencing the beginning symptoms of alzheimer’s.
We join the elderly Mrs Ross as she sits talking to the walls and her transistor radio. The tap constantly drips, the shelves are cluttered, the room is dark and filled with newspapers and other junk hoarded through the years. Rubbish to most but historical documents and treasures to her. She has no money and holes in her shoes. No money for heat or even much for food. The library opens at 9am. A chance to warm her feet on the radiator pipework before taking herself off to the National Assistance welfare office. A government means-tested benefit scheme. Hopefully she can get some money for some new shoes and hopefully a bag of chips for supper. It’s a sad, lonely life for Mrs Ross but she gets by. Well, for the time being anyhow?
This sad story is centered around a bleak broken down town in the City of Manchester where unemployment and poverty was rife. The big industry driven city has factories closing every month. Disillusioned people do what they need to get by. Some are kind, some are despicable. Most though, just get on with what gets them through the everyday slog. Poor Mrs Ross has to deal with a lot as she daydreams of a wealthy past and the arrival of a big sum of owed inheritance. She’d have to suffer through robbery, betrayal, illness and bewilderment. All before the unexpected return of a stranger from her past. I did say this was a sad story.
- Not only has director Bryan Forbes made some incredible movies like King Rat, Seance On A Wet Afternoon and the horror mystery classic The Stepford Wives. He also wrote the screenplay for 1960s The League Of Gentlemen and The Angry Silence along with many things. He also acted too! You can see him in The Guns of Navarone, An Inspector Calls and Yesterday’s Enemy. But no he didn’t leave it there! He only went of and married the beautiful Nanette Newman! The lucky bastard!
- Nanette Newman and Harry Baird (UFO) play the couple upstairs with their crying baby. And look out for a Leonard Rossiter who turns up in a small part.
- Composer John Barry gives a fitting soundtrack that fits the gloomy vibe like a worn out glove with a dirty finger poking out.
- Edith Evans would receive an Oscar nominee for Best Actress in a Leading Role. Win a Golden Globe and a BAFTA along with winning Best Actress from National Board Of Review and the New York Film Critics Circle Award. And you can see why she got all the praise, she is fantastic in the role.
The Whisperers is a social commentary showing the life of one of many people who would be vulnerable to the government’s rash decision to stop the National Assistance service. It’s touching, tragic and somber. I wasn’t quite prepared for how depressing and heartbreaking this film was going to be. It’s poignant and relentlessly bleak. Yep this film is quintessential gritty British Kitchen Sink Realism and will not be everyone’s cup of tea. You will either be completely emerged in the poor plight of Mrs Ross or have a desire to start shooting up smack in a dark damp alleyway!
Either way there’s no denying that Edith Evans portrayal in The Whisperers is utterly absorbing and truly deserving of all the praise she got. Hard one to recommend to be honest! I really “enjoyed” it, it’s certainly compelling and incredibly emotional. Also highlights the necessity to keep an eye on your elderly loved ones. They are only a phone call or a quick pop in and say hello away…… Have you seen it?
Thanks for popping on by and seeing what’s been screened in the wolf lair. All the best.. Mikey