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Getting it Right Review

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Living with his mother, Gavin (Birdsall) is happy in his rut at the blue rinse end of the hairdressing industry. His much-vaunted virginity, however, is captured when two impossibly upfront women, Joan and Minerva (Redgrave and Carter, respectively) burst onto his polyster existence.

★★★★

A rare social outing brings our hero into the orbit of two strenuously eccentric women, Joan and Minervaof. Life, apparently, is ready for Gavin. It’s a little perplexing why these women should be interested in our man, and he certainly doesn’t deserve it. As Joan is slipping into something more comfortable, he’s thinking “The last train to Barnet is 12 04 if I miss that it’s a cab.”

Gavin’s interior monologue is not usually this funny and it points, with a heavy hand, to Getting It Right as the-film-of-the-book. (Author Elizabeth Jane Howard also provided the screenplay, which can’t have helped.) At least Gavin’s musings (he suspects every woman that looks at him of indecent forwardness) suggest he has interesting problems. Yet there’s no trace of the fumbling neurotic in his behaviour: what we see is a thoroughly competent though very boring man, good at his job, a source of emotional sustenance for his gay friend Harry, and a big hit with women. There just isn’t enough pain or charm in Gavin’s screen life to make our hearts warm to him: and this is a film desperate to be heartwarming.

It seems to be attempting to capture the mood of those 60s “misfit” films, most obviously The Georgy Girl, whose eponymous heroine, a prototype for Gavin, made the young Lynn Redgrave a star It’s doubtful that Gavin will do the same for Jesse Birdsall. Maybe in the 80s, actors and audiences don’t have the innocence for tales of ugly ducklings; or this could just be a case of inferior filmmaking. Whatever, Getting It Right doesn’t get to within spitting distance of the necessary blend of humour and poignancy. Lunch with mad Minerva’s wacky family is doubtless supposed to be a comic highlight, but the casting of John Gielgud as her father, a nouveau riche vulgarian, is genuinely grotesque. Worst of all is the foot-shuffling mawkishness in the central relationship between Gavin and his mousey salon junior. Getting It Right is like something very sweet that’s sadly gone horribly off.

Inexplicable casting and a distinct lack of heart in a movie that gets it all wrong.