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Between Two Women (2000) is a 1950s set feature film by British writer-director Steven Woodcock.[1] It tells the story of Ellen, a factory worker’s wife trapped in an unhappy marriage amidst the grime and industrial noise of north England.

Contents

Synopsis

Working class Ellen (Barbara Marten) makes friends with her young son’s middle class schoolteacher, Miss Thompson (Andrina Carroll), and their growing lesbian relationship is tastefully explored as Ellen’s marriage to the clumsy factory worker, Hardy (Andrew Dunn), gradually falls apart. In the end Ellen finds the strength to follow her true path and her marriage is pretty much over. Because of the stifling social attitudes of the 1950s she and Hardy seem like they’ll pretend to still be together. The film closes on a happy note as Ellen catches a train away from the factory town where she lives, to spend time with Kathy.

Style

It’s the stifling social conventions of the 50s that are at the root of the movie’s poetic and very understated style. Anybody with low concentration parameters could easily miss the lesbian aspect altogether. In the DVD documentary The Making of Between Two Women (only on UK DVD) Steven Woodcock says that Miss Thompson was originally intended to be a man but he couldn’t get the story to work. He claims not to have based the story of the two women on anything that happened to him in real life but that it came as a flash of inspiration when he woke up one morning.[2]

The movie is in the tradition of the British northern-set kitchen sink drama and is a homage to the British New Wave of the late 1950s and early 60s, being filmed in the same naturalistic way, drawing on Cinéma vérité methods, and using entirely real locations. Its main difference is that its theme of a lesbian relationship across the class divide in a gritty working class setting would have been considered too risky, had the film been made at the time of the original British New Wave movement. It's this that gives it, in the words of the British TV magazine the Radio Times, "a refreshing contemporary spin".[3]

Background and Production

The movie was shot mostly in and around Huddersfield and Rochdale during the summer and autumn of 1999. It has become an international cult movie, garnering many positive reviews and winning the Best Feature Film Award at the Hollywood backed New York Lesbian & Gay Film Festival soon after release.[4] It has been screened in Hollywood at the Directors Guild of America. It has been shown on British TV more than 250 times.[5] Although a very British film filled with well known British actors it was released on DVD by Image Entertainment in America before the UK, to some good reviews in Variety and the Los Angeles Times.[6]

US vs UK versions

The Region 2 UK version (79 mins) is shorter than the Region 1 US version (93 mins) and is the preferred version of the director. The UK version also contains the behind-the-scenes documentaries, giving nearly an hour of extras with the trailer. Some people prefer the longer version because greater character interplay is evident between the two women.

The second documentary on the UK DVD is about deleted scenes and in it Woodcock explains why he remastered the movie in 2005 and cut it back by about 15 minutes for the 2006 British release because he thought these scenes of interplay between the two women worked in the novel but slowed the story down on screen.[7] The documentary also shows complete scenes and parts of scenes that were filmed but not included in either the US or UK versions of the movie.

Trivia

Ellen's son Victor was played by Edward Woodcock, the director's son in real life. He is on screen more than any other actor in the film.

The small grey car that Miss Thompson drives appears again in Steven Woodcock's next film The Jealous God. There is a deliberate cross-referencing between the films when Vincent (Jason Merrells) says that he bought the car from a woman school teacher - a direct reference to it being the same car in the previous film.

References

  1. ^ British Council Brit Films catalogue.
  2. ^ The Making of Between Two Women (Oddyssey Video, 2006)
  3. ^ Radio Times review from first British TV screening in 2002. http://www.radiotimes.com/servlet_film/com.icl.beeb.rtfilms.client.simpleSearchServlet?frn=39032&searchTypeSelect=5
  4. ^ British Council website cataloguing British film directors. http://www.britfilms.com/britishfilms/catalogue/browse/?id=D9CC70591895f22BAERlV3C925F9
  5. ^ It's the book of the film! Article in Huddersfield Daily Examiner. December 9th 2004. http://www.examiner.co.uk/news/tm_objectid=14961533&method=full&siteid=50060&headline=it-s-the-book-of-the-film--name_page.html
  6. ^ British Council website cataloguing British film directors. http://www.britfilms.com/britishfilms/catalogue/browse/?id=D9CC70591895f22BAERlV3C925F9
  7. ^ DVD documentary Between Two Women: Deleted Scenes. (Oddyssey Video. 2006.)

http://www.britfilms.com/britishfilms/directors/?id=D9CC7059188fb234F4XhQ2F104E9

External links

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