Plenty (1985)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Psychological Drama, Resistance Film  |   Run Time - 125 min.  |   Countries - United Kingdom , United States   |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Craig Butler

The plays of David Hare tend to polarize their audiences, although he is more generally acclaimed at home in England than in other parts of the world -- probably because his work often comments, at times obliquely, on situations and events that have special resonance with English audiences. Plenty, the film version of an early Hare hit, has been blessed with a rock solid cast, but many will still find it rough going. Essentially an extended character study (of both the character Susan Traherne and, metaphorically, of post-war Britain itself), the film is rather deliberately paced; Susan's mantra may be "I must be moving on," but director Fred Schepisi is content to linger a bit too much. However, this gives a subtlety and ambiguity to the film, which some will find entrancing. More problematic is the fact that most viewers will find Susan exasperating and annoying and lose patience with her. This is in spite of Meryl Streep's impressive performance. She delves into the character and lives in her skin. Where other stars would be afraid to explore the character's less attractive side or would want to balance the unpleasantness of the character, Streep charges head on and never looks back. The script may never let the audience understand Susan 100%, but it is clear that Streep knows her down to her toenails. She is well supported by John Gielgud and Tracey Ullman, both of whom make the most of their parts. Plenty will bore many and frustrate others, but Streep's performance is worth watching.