Jodhi continues our theme of British child actresses who've gone into successful adult roles. She was born in 1975 and got her first acting break at the age of 12. She later went to Oxford University studying English before becoming a fulltime actress. She is known for avoiding the celebrity circuit , preferring to let her work do the talking.
Jodhi's quality control is pretty good so while the following films are not all classics ( or indeed all good roles for her ) she's so far avoided appearing in any absolute stinkers.
NB: I have not included The Scarlet Letter in the listing below, not because it's awful ( which it is ) but because Jodhi's is only a voice performance and I am excluding those from this blog so I don't have to sit through too many dismal animated films ( I have enough of that with my son !) .
1. A World Apart (1988)
The film is based on the experiences of its screenwriter Shawn Slovo as a young girl in South Africa whose parents were committed communists involved in the apartheid struggle. For some reason the names are changed so the family name becomes Roth. The action is set in 1963 when Molly Roth ( Jodhi ) is 12 and her father ( Jeroen Krabbe in the briefest of cameos ) has to flee the country. His wife Diana ( Barbara Hershey ) carries on their work as if nothing has happened despite having three children to look after and is duly arrested under the Ninety Day Detention Law leaving a confused Molly to work out why she's been abandoned.
The title refers to both the chasm between mother and daughter and the gap between the Roths' affluent suburban lifestyle and that in the townships from where their black housekeeper Elsie ( Linda Mvuli ) hails. A scene where Molly goes for a meal at Elsie's home has no other purpose. The contrast is also made between the brutal and ultimately fatal ( offscreen - director Chris Menges eschews any screen violence here ) treatment Elsie's relative suffers for his agitation and the relatively benign emotional blackmail Diana has to deal with, coming from her urbane gaoler Muller ( David Suchet ).
Beyond that the film is not too preachy. Slovo and Menges leave enough space to allow you to make up your own mind whether Diana is right to make her family suffer for her beliefs . Probably Slovo herself has mixed feelings on the issue. It's also good on period detail although Hershey's big hair and bright lipstick scream the decade in which it was made rather than set. It is slow moving at times and the soundtrack is a bit too sparse.
Hershey is good as a Vanessa Redgrave ( who must surely have been considered for the role ) type figure, passionate about her cause but somewhat deficient in human warmth. Mvuli's performance is fine although I can't honestly say she deserved any award for it. By contrast the men are a bit disappointing. Suchet's been much better elsewhere and Tim Roth is awful as Diana's Commie sidekick. Everyone makes a decent fist of the accent with Adrian Dunbar as an excitable interrogator the most convincing.
Despite Hershey's top billing it is Jodhi's film. She has the most screen time and she copes well with the complexity without being too showy. Her prior restraint gives the big cathartic scene with Hershey more emotional heft.
It's not the masterpiece some have claimed but it's definitely worth investigating.
2. Eminent Domain (1990)
3. The Last Of The Mohicans (1992)
At 36 ( at the time of writing ) Jodhi still has a window of opportunity to become a major star but as things stand at the moment she's most likely to be remembered for a role she played at 17 in which she has hardly any dialogue.
Michael Mann took on the challenge of adapting James Fennimore Cooper's now-unfashionable opus though freely admitting this film owes more to the screenplay of a 1936 adaptation than the source novel. The story concerns Nathanael aka Hawkeye ( Daniel Day-Lewis) a white man living as a nomadic fur trader with a Native American father and son near the frontier of the pre-Independence American colonies. They are happy dropping in on the English settlers for a cuppa and avoiding entanglement in the French and Indian War now raging. This becomes impossible when they rescue a couple of English girls , Cora and Alice ( Madeline Stowe and Jodhi ) and their escort Major Hayward ( Stephen Waddington ) from an ambush arranged by their treacherous guide Magua ( Wes Studi ). They are on the way to their father Munro ( Maurice Roeves ) beseiged by the French at a border fort. Hayward is pursuing Cora's hand in marriage but she is looking elsewhere.
At least prior to Heat Mann was criticised for being more style than substance and poor on narrative. That still applies here to some extent and even having watched it umpteen times ( because it's my wife's favourite film ) there are still things which puzzle me. How can the callow English major communicate better with the Hurons than Hawkeye who's lived alongside them all his life ? Why are Magua's loyal followers so uninterested in his final duel ? And why on earth does no one think to tell Munro's daughters , one of them delicate, that wandering through a war zone isn't a great idea ?
That said it's still enjoyable for the epic set pieces, stirring score and rich characterisation. Nearly all the main characters are well-rounded; even the vengeful, bloodthirsty Magua is allowed a tender moment. The British don't get a great press, Munto is a pigheaded martinet and Hayward is haughty and duplicitous but both are shown to have redemptive qualities.
I know I'm in a minority but I don't like Day-Lewis with his arrogant bearing and mannered delivery and both traits are in evidence here but he does make a convincing action hero and his romance with the dark-eyed Stowe is believable. As his jealous , mean-mouthed rival Stephen Waddington is a revelation and he must wonder why he's largely been confined to playing dim-witted sidekicks since. Studi makes a great villain and Roeves is reliably tetchy but Pete Postlethwaite is absolutely wasted in a nothing role.
Jodhi doesn't have many lines but as the rabbit-in-the-headlights witness to the mayhem going on around her she steals every scene in which she appears. Why this didn't make her a star is another puzzle.
4. Second Best (1994)
This is an aggravating film and not just because Jodhi's in it for all of 5 seconds. So much of it is very good but ultimately it's unsatisfying.
It's mainly set in rural ( and perpetually rainy ) Wales where Graham Holt ( William Hurt ) the repressed, socially awkward postmaster caring for his bedridden father ( Alfred Lynch ) decides to try his hand at adoption. His charge James ( Chris Cleary Miles ) is a disturbed boy whose most treasured memory is a week spent living rough with his on-the-run father ( Keith Allen ). The film follows Graham's progress at juggling James's family skeletons with his own.
There are three main problems with the film. One is a weak ending; what appears to be a minor episode is resolved and then the credits come up with a real trauma on the horizon but not covered. The second is a rather clumsy edit. The scene where Jodhi appears obviously heralds a subplot about a previous romantic adventure of Graham's but it's yanked after a single line to risible effect.
The third problem is Hurt's attempt at a Welsh accent. It's diabolical and clearly no one had the balls to tell their Hollywood star to stop trying. Some of his dialogue is lost because the phrasing is so odd. It's a great pity because in every other respect he's right on the money particularly the character's body language. You can feel his pain in the scene where he goes to the disco.
There is good support from Alan Cumming in an early role as a sympathetic social worker and Jane Horrocks as one who needs a good slap. There are also effective one scene cameos from Prunella Scales, Nerys Hughes ( yes really ) and particularly John Hurt ( no relation ) as Graham's fabulously unpleasant uncle. Allen is admirably restrained ( and impressively transformed by the make-up artist over the course of the film ) but goes unrewarded with a poorly written role . Clynes is good though it's hard to really sympathise with his character.
5. Sister My Sister (1994)
Jodhi played one of the title roles (Lea) in this period drama based on true events in inter-war France. Her sister Christine is played by Joely Richardson ( which begs an obvious question but who's complaining ?).
The two girls are housemaids in an all-female household waiting on Madame Danzard ( Julie Walters ) a miserly widow with a nice line in psychological cruelty and her graceless daughter Isabelle ( Sophie Thursfield ). Christine's stoic exterior masks a seething rage at her position in life and the neglect of her mother. The younger Lea calms her down by offering lesbian incest but that leads to an equally dangerous jealousy when it becomes clear that Lea is open to the attentions of others, particularly Isabelle. Downstairs in the deliberately dim drawing room, Madame delights in tormenting her lumpen daughter under a mask of flighty eccentricity.
A low budget film part-financed by Channel 4 , the director Nancy Meckler makes a virtue of the constraints, the dingily lit house serving as a dungeon for three of the four main characters, a recurring dripping tap representing their torture. There are no men on screen at all, just voices representing an insinuating photographer and a police officer in different scenes. The film is just the right length, conveying the boredom of Madame's routine without it crossing over to the viewer. The key scene is a juxtaposition of the two sisters getting it on while Isabelle endures an excrutiating game of Patience downstairs. You know things are not going to turn out well.
The four main players are excellent. I was very wary of watching anything in which Walters is first-billed but she's superb here, note perfect and absolutely terrifying ( and brilliantly filmed ) in her final scene when the mask slips and the vindictive tyrant is revealed. Richardson is also very good ( she knows plenty about maternal neglect after all ) ; neither of the Richardson girls are/were great at conveying warmth but that coldness suits the character here. Thursfield doesn't have the same chances to shine but she does make you feel for her frustration and regret that the binds of veracity don't allow her a nicer fate. Jodhi was only 19 when this came out but her inexperience doesn't show. Lea is the most sympathetic character and the natural warmth in her brown- eyed smile is put to good effect here. The scene where she puts on a new lace bodice at her sister's request is highly erotic without any nudity involved.
An impressive film all told which deserves to be better known.
6. The Gambler (1997)
7. The Woodlanders (1997)
Jodhi plays Marty South in this Film Four adaptation of Hardy's novel. At just 90 minutes the film presents quite a condensed version of the story and Jodhi's character is the main victim of the compression .
The Woodlanders is actually the only one of Thomas Hardy's major novels that I haven't read ( I wasn't a great fan but my sister had them all ) but this felt like familiar territory. Like most of the others it's a Victorian tragedy set in rural Dorest ; in this one class obsession and social propriety are to blame for the destruction to the lives of the inhabitants.
The main heroine is Grace Melbury ( Emily Woof ) returning to the village after a good education provided by her upwardly mobile father ( Tony Haygarth ) the local timber merchant. He feels she is now too good for childhood sweetheart Giles ( Rufus Sewell ) and encourages the new doctor Edred Fitzspiers ( Cal MacAninch ) to press his suit. However it soon transpires that Edred has his own ideas on class and who he should be sleeping with.
Hardy fans don't like this because of its brevity and altered ending so it's probably an advantage not to have read the book. I enjoyed it for the lovely scenery and narrative pace although it was clear that a lot was missing.
It's also well-acted with Woof rising well to the challenge of a starring role. It 's also nice to see Tony Haygarth in a sympathetic if misguided role. MacAninch , who I've never heard of , is subtle as the despicable doctor and Polly Walker limbers up well for her Rome role as the bored bitch wreaking havoc on the other characters. Sewell is likeable but bland demonstrating why he's not achieved the major stardom predicted for him. Jodhi does as well as she can with her truncated role as Giles's other admirer but after the first 10 minutes she's a barely-glimpsed bystander and her re-appearance at the end makes it obvious that we've missed out on an important strand of the story.
8. The House Of Mirth (2000)
Jodhi kicked off a busy decade with a role in yet another peiod drama, this time Terence Davies's adaptation of Edith Wharton's coruscating assault on manners and morality in New York society at the turn of the century.
The story centres on a prominent but cash-poor socialite Lily Bart ( Gillian Anderson ) . She is attracted to the socially popular solicitor Seldon ( Eric Stoltz ) but he isn't rich enough to maintain her position so she must seek a wealthy husband. This leaves her very vulnerable to the machinations of her "friends" and duly her life begins to unravel.
It's a while since I read the novel ( for Manchester Central Library Reading Group ) but this seems to be a faithful representation. The framing is sumptuous despite the fact that none of it was filmed in the USA. Davies accurately captures Wharton's nightmare world where a cloak of exquisite politeness hides a cesspit of cruelty, deception and hypocrisy best exemplified by the lecherous slimeball Gus Trennor ( Dan Akroyd) and scheming adultress Bertha Dorset ( Laura Linney). Davies is also faithful to Wharton's vision of a world without an attractive male character, the best available being the parvenu financier Rosedale ( Anthony LaPaglia ) who at least brings plain speaking to the party.
The main gripe I have with the film is the casting of Anderson, then still on a roll from the success of X-Files. I know she has her fans but she isn't attractive enough to be the object of so much male attention in the story and her limited range of facial expressions fail to make Lily the tragic heroine she is in the book. Otherwise the cast is faultless. Stoltz isn't normally associated with period drama but he's excellent as the shallow and hypocritical Seldon and the usually sympathetic Linney ( who could well be a future subject of this blog ) outdoes Glenn Close in Dangerous Liaisons for manicured malevolence.
Jodhi plays another of Lily's nemeses , her cousin Grace , a jealous , self-righteous prig with a serpent's tongue. Having Jodhi playing the wallflower to Anderson's butterfly is manifestly absurd but she too is superb particularly in her chilling final scene.
9. The Escapist (2001)
Jodhi took a three-film break from period roles starting with this prison melodrama which is enjoyable for all the wrong reasons. The title is unintentionally ironic given the suspension of disbelief required here.
Dennis Hopkins ( Jonny Lee Miller ) is a pilot whose life falls apart when his wife ( Paloma Baerzin ) is murdered by Ricky Barnes ( Andy Serkis ) a psychopathic con on the run. Abandoning his newborn baby and faking his own death, Dennis enters the prison system for a minor crime and works his way up to the maximum security jail holding Barnes by persistent escape attempts.
This is one of those films which gets progressively more preposterous as it goes along and , once you've given up any attempt to take it seriously, it actually becomes good fun with a climax which doesn't disappoint. Hopkins doesn't do anything to disguise his appearance but no one in authority seems to bat an eyelid or commission a psychiatric intervention as their nameless customer goes through the system. The characterisation is wafer-thin so the plot is everything. There's some violence and strong language but they're about the only things in the film that aren't over the top.
The cast is rather better than the story deserves. Serkis ( disguised as Sean Ryder ) is suitably manic as Barnes and Gary Lewis ( the incomprehensible bald Scotsman from the last Prime Suspect ) is fine if not entirely intelligible as Dennis's sensible cellmate Ron ( the script doesn't bother with minor details like what he's in for ) . The weakest link is Miller himself who shows why he's failed to become an A-lister with a one-dimensional performance consisting largely of pouts and grimaces.
Jodhi does well enough as Dennis's sister-in-law ( and she and Baerzin actually do look alike ) but by the time she's called on to do any emoting the credibility threshold has been crossed and her style seems out of place.
10. Blinded (2004)
Jodhi has a lead role here although this modest melodrama made on a shoestring in Scotland was always unlikely to raise her profile.
The plot concerns a young Danish drifter, Mike ( Anders W Berthelson ) who fetches up in rural Scotland and finds work on a decaying farm where the master is a bitter blind man Francis Black ( Peter Mullan ) attended by his younger, sexually frustrated wife Rachel ( Jodhi ) and ailing mother Bella ( Phyllida Law ) . Mike's work seems to consist mainly of dumping obsolete machinery into a bottomless mudhole.
You can probably guess where things go from there and you'd largely be right though there are one or two surprises as the plot unwinds. Despite the financial constraints the production values are good, the exterior scenes are beautifully shot and the drab interior of the farm dovetails nicely with Rachel's dreary existence. On the down side the script ( loosely based on Therese Raquin ) is under-cooked and the over - frequent flashbacks to an incident in Mike's past become tiresome.
The dominant performance is Mullan's , overcoming the gaps in the script with sheer screen presence as the exploitative domestic tyrant. The film suffers when he's not present and Berthelson is bland and inadequate by comparison. Samantha Bond's doctor seems more of a plot device than a believable character but Law is good enough in a small role.
As for Jodhi she needed a better script than this to really shine. You do see a lot of her big-eyed glances but her character needs fleshing out before we can really sympathise with her. With the film director ( Eleanor Yule ) being female there's no nudity but plenty of Jodhi in underwear to compensate.
In summary it's just OK - mildly interesting but unmoving.
11. On A Clear Day (2005)
Jodhi stayed in Scotland to make another film with Mullan this time playing his daughter-in-law. Alas, it's a poor role for someone of her talent and she's just window-dressing.
The film concerns Frank ( Mullan ), a middle-aged man who is made redundant from a Glasgow shipyard. He is inattentive to his wife ( Brenda Blethyn ) and effectively estranged from his househusband son Stuart ( Jamie Sives ) whose brother died in a swimming accident. As a response he decides to swim the English Channel and gathers together a motley group of mates to help him.
If you think this sounds a bit familiar you'd be right. It's effectively The Full Monty with all the laughs bled out of it. It was well into the film before I realised it was even meant to be a comedy. For the most part it's just dreary and predictable with the "funny" bits actually making it worse by their hamfisted incongruity - one of his mates is discovered wearing women's underwear, a superfluous character called Merv The Perv videos his wife wearing bondage gear ( probably the sole, unnecessary reason for the 12 certificate ). The political subtext is at nursery level - management are wankers ( no shit Sherlock ! ) and the family scenes are let down by a weak script.
That the film remains watchable and that a thunderingly predictable ending still delivers an emotional kick is entirely down to Mullan. He could brood for, erm, Scotland but has a mesmerising screen presence and dominates every scene. Blethyn is alright despite a wobbly accent and a silly subplot about her becoming a bus driver and Billy Boyd ( Pippin Took in the Rings trilogy and playing him again here ) provides what few laughs are to be had. Sives does his best but he's fighting a losing battle with the script ; the scene where he jumps into the pool for a confrontation with his father is particularly cringeworthy.
12. Bye Bye Blackbird (2005)
Jodhi got a much better part in this bleak and ultimately baffling period drama set in Edwardian Paris.
She is Nina, the adopted daughter of the dubiously aristocratic Lord Dempsey ( Derek Jacobi ) director of a struggling circus whose real daughter Anna ( Izabella Miko ) is the star performer as a solo trapeze artist. Nina is attracted to Josef ( James Thierree ) a former construction worker with a head for heights but he is obsessed with Anna and auditions to join her on on the trapeze. However when Dempsey says " I could use him" there's a sinister hidden meaning.
Apart from the dodgy CGI cityscapes this is a good-looking film , the bleached -out colouring emphasising the grim reality behind the glitz for the circus entourage. Thieree ( a grandson of Charlie Chaplin ) and Miko performed their own stunts and these are brilliantly filmed. The soundtrack by Mercury Rev is pretty good. The main drawback is the script with its opaque dialogue and a major plot twist which for me at least defies rational explanation. The tragic ending is another surprise although I can think of a couple of big Hollywood films with a similar conclusion.
It is well acted throughout with Jacobi outstanding as the dictatorial impresario seething with resentment at the barriers to social acceptance. Thieree is also impressive although it's hard to believe in his character and there's good support from Michael Lonsdale who seems to have been condemned to a lifetime of sitting around philosophising since he foiled the Jackal. Miko certainly looks the part as the doll-like Anna but acting-wise she's completely blitzed by Jodhi. With, shall we say, as full a figure as she's ever sported she smoulders with unrequited passion and resentment at having to service the happiness of others and deservedly gets the last line of the film. She definitely makes it worth watching but expect some frustration along the way.
13. The Best Man (2005)
Oh Jodhi, what are you doing in this tripe ? She plays Tania , a sympathetic friend to the main protagonist. It's a small, undeveloped role which she performs well enough but it's a waste of her talent and she doesn't look particularly good in this either.
It's a romantic comedy directed by Stefan Schwarz probably more noted for his TV work on things like Hustle. Olly ( Stuart Townsend ) is a failed writer in a nothing job who gets asked to be best man to an old university friend James ( Steven James Shepherd ) . Olly accepts but then finds himself falling for the bride Sarah (Amy Smart). His childhood friend Murray ( Seth Green ) an old antagonist of James schemes to bring Olly and Sarah together.
That's pretty much it. It's completely derivative and predictable with strong echoes of Four Weddings And A Funeral amplified by the presence of Anna Chancellor and ( very briefly ) Simon Callow in the cast. There are one or two funny sight gags ( though the best one is nicked from Not The Nine O Clock News ) but the main script is both unbelievable and unamusing. For a long time it's not clear who you're supposed to side with ; James is an unimaginative philistine but rather endearing for most of the film while Murray is an unloveable porn afficionado. It needs a very abrupt and unconvincing mood swing by the former to set up the film's climax. There's also a big cop-out in the script as much turns on a letter Olly writes to Sarah on James's behalf but we only get to hear small snatches of it.
It's a decent-ish cast but strangely deployed with English actors playing Americans and vice versa and Townsend making no attempt to hide his Irish accent. Philip Jackson has been playing grouchy Northerners for nearly 40 years now so it's bizarre to have him playing Smart's father ( quite well actually ). On the other hand Green's struggles with the English accent make it hard to catch all his dialogue. Shepherd hedges his bets by switching between all three accents to bizarre effect. Townsend is actually quite good in an understated way and he and Smart are a convincing couple. Shepherd ( Joe from This Life ) makes a decent fist at a character that doesn't make sense but Green is a pain in the arse.
If you like this sort of thing I suppose it's passable but not my cup of tea.
14. Land Of The Blind (2006)
Jodhi originally had a small role in this ambitious political satire as the main character's mother but was excised completely.
The film is set in an un-named English-speaking state, a rigged democracy "electing" the deranged Maximilian Junior ( Tom Hollander ) who is more interested in making bad films than running the country. Joe Brady ( Ralph Fiennes ) is a young guard at a military prison housing playwright and enemy of the state John Thorne ( Donald Sutherland ) . Seduced by Thorne's rhetoric and sickened by the brutality of the regime , Brady facilitates the coup which brings Thorne to power but soon begins to have doubts.
This has some good ideas and decent performances from its mainly British cast but ultimately it doesn't work. The central premise, that dictators of the left are as bad as dictators of the right is sound, though hardly original and there is some fun to be had in identifying all the references to historical revolutions from ancient Rome to Afghanistan. I also liked the running jibe at Friends and the brave idea of having Thorne impose the hijab for women when he takes charge ( though this is somewhat undermined by the film's own dearth of decent female roles ).
On the other hand, at nearly two hours it's over-long and runs out of ideas. The last half hour ( which leans very heavily on 1984 for inspiration ) is both tedious and depressing. The dialogue is quite pretentious at times and the significance of the periodic b & w footage of elephants escapes me.
The first half of the film is dominated ( perhaps a tad too much ) by Hollander as the dim, deluded but dangerous dictator, largely based on Nero. It's the best performance in the film by some distance and you miss him when the character exits. Sutherland of course can play stary-eyed madmen in his sleep and his very presence telegraphs that Thorne will turn out to be a rotter. Fiennes as the lone liberal is OK but Brady is more of a cipher than a flesh and blood character and you just don't care what happens to him.
The major weakness of the film has already been alluded to above ; there are no convincing women characters. Lara Flynn Boyle is set up as an Elena Ceaucescu figure but the script neglects to assign any personal crimes to her and Camilla Rutherford as Thorne's guerilla chief Tania is a mere stereotype. Most crucially Brady's wife Madeline ( Laura Fraser ) is a wafer-thin role. With few scenes there's no development of their relationship at all so the human story which leavens the similarly bleak visions in V for Vendetta or 1984 is entirely missing here which leaves the film an intermittently interesting but essentially heartless exercise.
15. Nightwatching (2007)
Jodhi returned to period drama in this Peter Greenaway epic about the famous Rembrandt painting The Night Watch.
I know next to nothing about art but apparently this film is almost entirely fictitious with even the real events largely happening outside the period depicted. Rembrandt ( Martin Freeman ) is persuaded by his wife Saskia ( Eva Birthistle ) to take a lucrative commission to paint a group of self-satisfied Amsterdam burghers as a militia. His obvious distaste for the task is compounded first by the sexual revelations of Marieke ( Natalie Press ) daughter of one of the subjects and then the realisation that the burghers have murdered one of their number and framed another. He then uses the painting to expose them.
It's an intriguing enough premise but in Greenaway's hands it's stretched to breaking point with so many characters to keep track of it's impossible to follow in one viewing. And after two plus hours of Greenaway's stagey , languid direction and dense, unnecessarily profane dialogue the last thing you want to do is watch it all again. The revelation and interpretation of the painting is done in such a contrived and obvious manner it's laughable. Having said all that it's not actually the worst of Greenaway's films but he's still an acquired taste to say the least.
The other main flaw with the film is the casting of Martin Freeman. He gives an energetic, totally committed performance ( with a number of outings for his plonker ) and is actually quite good when conveying Rembrandt's grief at his wife's death but elsewhere his delivery reminds you of a sixth former struggling with Shakespeare and his expletive-ridden tantrums are just embarassing. Expecting a likeable comic actor to carry a film of this length and complexity was insane.
Those looking for some titillation have to wait until the last quarter of the film when Emily Holmes , Fiona O Shaughnessy and Jodhi herself all have full frontal scenes although Greenaway's obsession with Kubrickian mise en scene ensures that none of them are particularly erotic.
Jodhi ( along with Freeman and the dead-eyed Press, the only familiar name in the cast ) plays Gertje the coarse nanny / housekeeper hired by the burghers to discredit Rembrandt after his wife's death by becoming his mistress. Playing impressively against type ( and looking a little chunkier than usual ) as a vulgar sexual predator Jodhi lights up the later part of the film and it's a shame she isn't in it more.
16. Flashbacks Of A Fool (2008)
This was the first of two consecutive films made with Daniel Craig.
Craig was the executive producer and stars although he's absent from the core of the film. The title is slightly misleading as there's just one huge flashback in which his teenage self is played by Harry Eden.
Craig is Joe Scott , a washed up British film actor in Hollywood idling his days away with drugs and casual sex and exasperating those around him. When he gets a call from his mother ( Olivia Williams ) informing him of the death of childhood friend Boots ( Max Deacon ) he goes for a wander into the sea and we're taken back to his adolescence in an English seaside town in the early seventies. The young Jo and his infant sister Jess live with their mother and aunt Peggy ( Helen McCrory ) in a beach house. Jo is pursuing arty Roxy Music fan Ruth ( Felicity Jones ) but is waylaid by horny housewife Evelyn ( Jodhi ) with tragic and far-reaching consequences.
There's much to like about this film. The beach scenery is wonderful ( although South Africa substitutes for LA and you can tell that the skyscape is all wrong ). The soundtrack is excellent ( as you might expect from director Baillie Walsh's background as a music video director) with Roxy's compelling "If There Is Something" taking centre stage in a key scene. The central tragedy is well realised ( even though you can see it coming a mile off ) and carries a real emotional punch.
On the downside the script isn't top notch with several characters being severely under-written. Boots is little more than a loitering bystander in his scenes ; everything we learn about him comes from third parties and throws little light on his relationship with Jo. Some of the LA scenes at the beginning ( e.g the one with Emilia Fox as a drug dealer ) seem superfluous, there for the purpose of extending Craig's screen time rather than telling us anything important. And the ending is really poor, as mechanical ( poor Keeley Hawes as the adult Jess is just a plot device ) as it is unbelievable.
Craig's not at his best, looking ill at ease with the part of an effete, self-indulgent actor and you don't miss him when he's not there. By contrast young Eden is very good as his teenaged self and - through gritted teeth - deserves the reward of two raunchy sex scenes with a naked Jodhi. Jones and Miriam Karlin as the nosy neighbour are the best of the supporting cast. When you can take your eyes away from her fabulous breasts Jodhi too gives a great performance. She's not playing a particularly likeable character but you really feel for her when the chickens come home to roost.
Jodhi alone would make it worth watching but there's enough elsewhere to give it a cautious thumb's up.
17. Defiance (2008)
Jodhi has a relatively minor part in this World War Two drama as Tamara, a Jewish refugee with a secret. She's only the focus in a couple of scenes but can be spotted as an onlooker in many of the others.
The director is Edward Kwick , best known for Legends Of The Fall and there's certain similarities here in the scenes of fraternal conflict and a major act of re-cycling in the film's climax.
The film tells the true story of a group of Jewish brothers , the Bielskis from Belarus, who escape into the forests and not only become partisans but nurture a whole community of refugees away from the Nazis. The eldest two Tuvia (Daniel Craig) and Zus (Liev Schreiber) are constantly butting heads and after a disagreement over tactics turns into a fistfight Zus leaves to join a Soviet partisan unit and Tuvia has to lead the community alone.
This is a straight down the line re-telling of the story ( although the Poles were a bit angry that they were omitted this was probably for narrative simplicity more than anything else ). The characters are painted with a broad brush ; Tuvia is motivated by survival , Zus by the need for revenge then amongst the refugees you have a socialist intellectual, a religious elder to helpfully draw all the Biblical parallels and a pretty girl to marry the sensitive younger brother Asael (Jamie Bell). The action sequences are tough but economical; like Tuvia, director Edward Zwick doesn't want to dwell on the violence but the human interest of the story. Accordingly there's no real villain in the film ( apart from Adolf in the old footage at the beginning) just a venal police chief and a selfish rebel in the camp who fail to take the opportunity for heroism that the war presents.
Craig, while looking no more Jewish than he did in Munich, gives his usual reliable performance as the rock in the centre of the community brooding over the constant life-or-death decisions he has to make like a latter day Charlton Heston or Bert Lancaster. Schreiber (otherwise best known for his recurring role in the Scream franchise ) is also very solid in the less demanding role and the supporting cast acquit themselves well. It is a very male orientated film; the women don't get too many chances to shine with Zus's feisty girlfriend Bella (Iben Hjelje) the best of the bunch. Jodhi is as good as ever in her least glamorous role but her story comprises little more than a vignette.
With a wonderful Oscar-nominated score by James Newton Howard this is a worthwhile film that makes its points well and doesn't outstay its welcome.
18. I, Anna (2012)
Jodhi returned to film after an apparent ( filming on this was actually completed in 2010 ) four year break in this arty crime drama.
The titular Anna ( Charlotte Rampling ) is a late middle-aged frequenter of singles nights. After one of her dates George ( Ralph Brown ) ends up dead in his flat, she becomes a suspect after being seen returning to the scene by detective Kevin Franks ( Gabriel Byrne ). Franks decides to investigate by dating her himself and her secrets are slowly revealed.
It's a slow-paced character study rather than a thriller. The story unfolds in non-linear fashion pulling the Usual Suspects trick of presenting footage which only exists in one character's head and presenting more than one red herring though it does resolve quite neatly at the end with a shock that you weren't expecting. I don't really know why I didn't like it more though the fashionably minimalist soundtrack doesn't make it easy to watch.
Rampling is very good and in great shape for a woman in her mid-60s and there's some tension in wondering how far she'll go in the scene with Brown - annoyingly broken into at least half a dozen parts and scattered throughout the film. Byrne's performance is nicely understated although his motivations are never entirely clear. Brown is suitably appalling in his limited screen time.
Jodhi plays George's estranged wife who believes that their son might have committed the crime. Again it's not a big role and she's not in the latter half of the film. Every scene she's in requires her to be strung out and she does it well.
19. Ginger And Rosa (2012)
The title characters are a pair of teenage best friends in 1962. Ginger ( Elle Fanning ) has the more settled home life although her parents' marriage is fraying with mother Natalie ( Christina Hendricks) increasingly resentful at being neglected by self-satisfied husband Roland ( Alessandro Nivola ). Rosa ( Alice Englert ) is running wilder with her single mum ( Jodhi ) unable to keep tabs on her. As the girls become involved in religion and politics, Ginger becomes increasingly obsessed by the nuclear threat , encouraged by her sentimental old leftie godfather ( Timothy Spall ) while Rosa's obsession is somewhat closer to home.
This film was part-made by BBC Films and does feel like one of those Sunday evening feature length TV dramas ( that usually feature David Tennant ) despite the incongruous presence of Oliver Platt and Annette Benning as anti-nuclear activists. With no music, spare dialogue and what you might generously describe as leisurely pacing it's not easy viewing and at heart it's not really got anything new to say. Yes, friendships can be betrayed and the politically principled can be selfish shits ( shades of Howard Kirk ) in their private life but those are hardly great revelations. My wife says this is one of the most boring films she's ever seen and she's got a point. The film does rouse itself in the last 15 minutes but you wouldn't describe it as an exciting climax.
It is well-acted although some of the characters , Platt's for example and Roland's flatmate seem to be just hanging round waiting for something to do. The two girls are excellent although the script is heavily biased towards Ginger with Englert having relatively little scope in the second half of the film. Hendricks is sympathetic although it's hard not to be distracted by the size of her chest and Nivola is very good ( though too young ) as the despicable hypocrite. Jodhi is reliably impressive but again it's a very meagre part for someone of her talents.
20. A Quiet Passion ( 2016 )