Synopsis by Sandra Brennan
In 1954, all of England was rocked by a shocking crime that took place in a quiet coastal town and involved a socially upstanding landlady, her smart, newly blossomed teenage daughter, and a handsome but troubled Australian in search of family he had never known. In retelling this true story, first-time filmmaker Philip Goodhew offers a blackly comic and ironic look behind the proper lace curtains of a seemingly normal British household and reveals a seething pit of repressed lust, jealousy and deadly obsession. The tale begins as Harold Guppy (Rupert Graves) leaves a ship and ambles toward the home of his long-lost brother Maurice Guppy (Les Dennis). The reunion is tepid, for Maurice's wife Iris (Elizabeth McKechnie) is suspicious of Harold and unwilling to welcome him into her home. It doesn't help that the callow Harold reveals a troubled, though somewhat cloaked past. Unable to stay with his brother, Harold finds lodging in the home of friendly, late-middle-aged Mrs. Beasley (Julie Walters). With her rhinestoned glasses, boxy dresses, short bouffant, and prim take-charge manner, Mrs. Beasley seems the epitome of 1950s motherhood and good housekeeping. Harold soon meets the rest of the family, the fresh-faced, bright, but rather macabre Joyce (Laura Sadler in her feature-film debut), and Mr. Beasley, a quiet, hen-pecked (the Mrs. hasn't had relations with him in years and forces him to sleep in his own room) WW I survivor who despite his missing leg, still supports his family. Things seem normal enough until a fateful game of spin-the-bottle during Joyce's 14th birthday party reveals an entirely different side to Mrs. Beasley. That night she creeps to Harold's bedroom and pleads with him until he weakens and accepts her advances and they begin to make wild love. The row awakens Joyce who pops into Harold's room and refuses to leave until the would-be lovers allow her into the bed. Thinking her asleep and unaware, Mrs. Beasley and Harold quietly resume their cavorting. Joyce is very much awake and spends the night scheming to get Harold to come to her. Thus begins an inescapable downward spiral for the weak-willed Harold that culminates in a desperate and horrific act of violence. Though it is not difficult to guess that none of the three protagonists will come to a good end, the graphic nature of the story's climax is jarring and out of place in the otherwise low-key and rather dry comedy. That the trio's characters are so broadly drawn, even bordering on cariactures, lessens the impact and the actual horror of the case. Still, Intimate Relations is a well-made film that aptly captures the flavor of post WW II England and contains many memorable lines.That the three try so hard to keep up the appearances of a normal household (Mrs. Beasley insists that Harold call her "Mum," a word he later has tattooed upon his arm) only adds to the bitter humor.
orphan, rejection, sex, sexual-deviation