Synopsis: A young Englishwoman spends 20 years to make whatever kind of life for herself at the expense of others around her in post-World War II England.
Stars: Meryl Streep, Sam Neill, Charles Dance, Tracey Ullman, Sting, Ian McKellan
Director: Fred Schepsi
Running Length: 121 minutes
TMMM Score: (6/10)
Review: Here’s a curious character study drama that was adapted from the stage play its author, David Hare (The Hours, The Reader). Already a two-time Oscar winner racking up a strong streak of films (and coming off of the undervalued Falling in Love), Streep is strangely subdued here playing a former resistance fighter that has to adjust to life after wartime. The film has a real dreamlike quality to it and though the work among the actors is strong, it’s an aloof affair that made it a tough one to really get involved with.
The movie has a lot of layers to it, compounded by Hare’s revised script that expanded upon certain relationships previously unexplored on stage. Director Schepsi relies on the strength of his actors to maneuver through a middle act that sags a bit but succeeds in a strong opening and closing to the piece.
Along with Streep (who, even subdued, is mesmerizing) there’s commendable work by Neill, Dance, McKellan, and Ullman. Ullman and Streep formed a nice bond onscreen and off and it’s nice to see Ullman in this type of role as she’s primarily known for her comedic work.
The overall experience of Plenty may not be enough to warrant a second viewing but for Streep completists interested in her early evolving body of work it’s worth a look. Her next film would be Out of Africa and I tend to look at this film and Falling in Love to be a bridge between the types of performances Streep gave in Silkwood and would give in Out of Africa.