[Screen It]


(1996) (Julie Waters, Rupert Graves) (R)

Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Tense Scenes
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Mild None Minor None Heavy
Smoking Tense Family
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Black comedy: A lodger must deal with the affair he's having with a middle-aged woman while keeping her teenage daughter from telling her father.
Marjorie (JULIE WATERS) and Stanley Beasley (MATTHEW WALKER) live a typical suburban life in 1950's England with their thirteen-year-old daughter, Joyce (LAURA SADLER). Stanley still relives his service in WWI where he lost a leg, and spends the rest of his time at the local pub drinking away his sorrows since he and Marjorie -- his model housewife and professional seamstress -- are no longer romantic. When Harold Guppy (RUPERT GRAVES) returns to town after a long absence, he hopes to stay with his brother, Maurice (LES DENNIS) and sister-in-law Iris (ELIZABETH McKECHNIE), but they don't want to put him up. So the Beasley's take him in as a lodger, and soon Marjorie's trying to seduce him. He can't believe this is happening, especially when Joyce crawls into bed with them, but Marjorie is determined. Soon he begins to enjoy his situation although he and Marjorie attempt to keep their affair a secret from Stanley. It's Joyce who becomes the problem, though, as her awakening sexuality peeks her interest in what her mom and Harold are doing, and she soon threatens to tell everyone if Harold doesn't spend time with her. Harold finds himself in an awkward position, and tries to break free, but Marjorie and Joyce blackmail him into staying with them causing an already explosive situation to become even more combustible.
It's doubtful, unless they've heard something about this film, and only then it will be older teens who'd probably want to see it.
For disturbing sexual situations, a scene of related violence and some language.
None of the cast members play characters who most parents would consider to be good role models.


OUR TAKE: 5 out of 10
Based on true-life events that shocked Britain in the 1950's, "Intimate Relations" is a black comedy that runs out of steam before reaching its inevitable, but still shocking conclusion. While it loosely follows the actual outcome of the true story, the film loses its wicked approach that satirizes the sterile, "Leave it to Beaver" norms, and instead delves straight into obsessive, psychotic behavior. While the satire's there, however, it runs full steam and skewers the time when people referred to sex as "intimate relations" (hence the title), and the plot, dialogue and acting are all top notch. If he's not careful, actor Rupert Graves (who won the 1996 Montreal Film Festival best actor award for this role) is going to be typecast as the sexual deviant of choice in any movie where such a character's "services" are needed. Not only does he play a character here who sleeps with a married woman old enough to be his mother -- and usually in front of her daughter, no less -- but in the upcoming release, "Different for Girls" he plays a man who falls for and has sex with a woman he's known since high school -- when she was a he. Graves should make sure he doesn't get pigeonholed into such roles for he appears to have talent waiting to burst out onto the scene. Of course many actors have become famous and made quite a living playing similarly constructed deviant characters, but it's not something one usually sets out to do. Newcomer Laura Sadler also does a good job playing her own adolescent "deviant" whose motivations are fueled by her awakening desires.

But it's actress Julie Waters (Academy award nominee for "Educating Rita") who steals the show. Her take on the sexually frustrated 1950's housewife is very funny, particulary at the beginning when we're just starting to know her and her situation. Good bits include her responding to Guppy's question about why their male dog's name is "Princess Margaret" ("He doesn't know the difference"), and Marjorie's obvious embarrassment and "change the subject quick" attitude when her daughter approaches her with questions about menstrual cycles. It's when Marjorie takes a "Fatal Attraction" turn for the worse, however, that her true obsessive, "never let go" character is revealed. Unfortunately, that's also when the film takes a turn for the worse and loses most of its black comedy quality. Likewise, the first time she seduces Guppy with her daughter supposedly asleep in the same bed is strange and somewhat amusing (watching his shocked reaction), but after this behavior continues, the satire fades and all we're left with is rather sick, deviant behavior. Of course we're supposed to find it amusing watching Guppy's reaction to all of this and his attempts at breaking free, but black comedy often runs the fine line of not being funny, and that's what happens to this film as it progresses. Good in the beginning but turning too serious for satire in the second half, "Intimate Relations" is a movie that almost hits the mark, but falls short. We give it a 5 out of 10.

Obviously the main thing parents will probably object to in this film is the deviant sexual behavior where a mother has an affair with her 13-year-old's complete knowledge, and even does so in the same bed with her. We never see anything overly explicit, but a rocking car and some groping indicate what's happening in different scenes. Additionally, the young teenage girl wants Harold to have sex with her and constantly badgers him about that subject (nothing ever happens). Profanity is rather sparse, but does include several uses of the "f" words, some of them said in a sexual context. There's also a lethally violent scene that's somewhat bloody. Due to some of the rather bizarre material included in this film, we strongly suggest that you look through the scene listings before allowing your children to see this film.

  • Stanley drinks in many scenes (in a bar, from a flask, etc...) and is drunk in several of them.
  • People drink in the background of bar scenes.
  • Marjorie has a little wine at a birthday party and partially blames her advances on Harold on that.
  • Marjorie and Harold drink wine while putting up Christmas decorations. Later, they allow Joyce to drink some wine as well.
  • Harold drinks cheap whiskey straight from the bottle.
  • Marjorie and Harold comment on Joyce having her fourth glass of wine.
  • Harold's hand is bloody after he forcibly takes a knife from Marjorie.
  • The back of Marjorie' neck and shoulders are rather bloody after Joyce hits her with a hatchet. Both women are also a little bloody from where Harold stabs them, and his hands are very bloody after this as well.
  • Obviously Marjorie has both as she not only seduces and has an affair with Harold, but she also does so in front of her teenage daughter (in the same bed, in a car while Joyce picks flowers nearby, etc...). She also looks down on people whose behavior she doesn't approve of, but then behaves that way herself.
  • Similarly, Harold has an affair with Marjorie in front of Joyce.
  • Joyce and her mom blackmail Harold throughout the film, threatening to expose him to Stanley, and even the police, regarding his actions with them.
  • Joyce calls her father "old and stupid."
  • Marjorie and Harold allow Joyce to get away with being a brat and drinking lots of wine, only because she threatens to squeal about their affair.
  • Harold swims underwater (he's a lifeguard) toward a girl, and although we don't see it, he fondles her.
  • The scene in the movie, where Joyce, Marjorie, and Harold attack each other is tense. See the final entry in "Violence" for specific details.
  • Hatchet/Knife: Used to threaten, injure, and kill some people. See "Violence" for details.
  • Phrases: "Bastard," "Bloody," "Shut up," "Whore," and "Idiot."
  • Harold tosses an empty liquor bottle into a river.
  • Harold gets a tattoo ("Mum") on his arm.
  • A man stabs himself with a knife.
  • None.
  • One scene has a minor bit of suspenseful music in it.
  • None.
  • 4 "f" words (3 used sexually), 3 hells, 1 damn, and 2 uses each of "Jesus" and "Oh God," and 1 use each of "For God's sakes" and "Jesus Christ" as exclamations.
  • A piano player at a dance recital has a "nudie" book in front of him that shows a black and white photo of a fully naked lady on a swing (her breasts and pubic hair are seen).
  • Stanley (in bed) tells Marjorie that he needs some affection, and then takes her hand and moves it to his crotch, but she instantly pulls away.
  • One of Joyce's friends mentions at the dinner table that they learned about "orgasms" in biology class (she meant to say "organisms"), causing the two girls to giggle in delight in front of Harold.
  • Marjorie passionately kisses Harold in a closet after a game of "Spin the Bottle" selects him as her kissing partner.
  • Marjorie gets into bed with Harold (despite his objection) and then runs her hand down to his crotch (he makes her stop). Eventually, however, they begin passionately kissing and rolling around on the bed (comically). Joyce then interrupts their activity, and crawls into bed with them. Later, when they think she's asleep, they begin fooling around again and it's implied that they had sex (while Joyce is actually awake).
  • The next day Joyce asks Harold if what he and her mom did was adultery, and then says that he has to do the same things to her or she'll tell her father. He refuses.
  • A teenager who works with Marjorie finds out that she's pregnant.
  • Joyce coerces Harold into taking her to a hotel room (nothing happens). The next morning she's still talking about it, so Harold acts like he's going to actually have sex with her (He talks about his hips against hers and says, "My hands all over you, everywhere....imagine me undressing you....let your hands explore me....Do you want me to climb onto you, and into you? Deep?). He then suddenly pulls away and says, "Now you know what it's like to have someone messing (mentally) with you."
  • Harold refers to his and Marjorie's affair as being like animals ("rutting") and tells her "the only feelings you've got are between your legs."
  • Joyce's best friend leaves after Joyce felt the girl's crotch (not seen).
  • While Joyce picks flowers nearby, Marjorie and Harold have sex in a car. While we don't see anything other than the car rocking, we do hear some sexual sounds.
  • Joyce asks her mother, "Why won't he (Harold) do it to me?" Marjorie replies, "Do what?" to which Joyce says, "What he does to you. Sex." She then says that she's not a virgin and that she's "been with a boy and we had sexual intercourse."
  • Harold tells Joyce's older sister that Joyce "masturbates every night and tries to do it with her friends..."
  • Harold smokes in many scenes, and Stanley does in a few.
  • Joyce sneaks a smoke in the family bathroom.
  • Some miscellaneous characters smoke.
  • This family is obviously dysfunctional as the mother turns to other men for attention and sex since she can't stand to be with her husband. Additionally, the mother blatantly has her affair with Guppy in front of Joyce, causing Joyce to want the same. Joyce also becomes unruly because she knows she can blackmail her mother with threats of telling her father what's going on.
  • That the film is meant to be taken as satire, but is based on true events.
  • The mother's oblivious/casual attitude toward her daughter seeing her having affairs.
  • Harold thrashes Joyce on a hotel bed after she won't stop talking about him having to have sex with her.
  • Marjorie briefly, but violently spanks Joyce after she and Harold return home after spending the night in a hotel.
  • Harold violently grabs Joyce and hauls her upstairs and pours water on her head after she threatens to expose the affair. Later, Joyce smacks her mother and punches her in the stomach. Marjorie then has a knife and tries to go after Joyce, but Harold hits her and in the process of taking the knife from her, cuts his hand.
  • Stanley pushes Harold backwards and Harold then pushes Stanley to the floor.
  • Joyce takes a hatchet and slams it into Marjorie's neck while she and Harold prepare to have sex again. Harold punches Joyce, and Marjorie then takes a knife and tries to go after him but Harold stops her. He then stabs her with the knife and then does the same to Joyce as she comes after him. Seeing that both women are dead, he then takes the knife and stabs himself in the gut.

  • Reviewed September 19, 1997

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