Synopsis by Brian J. Dillard
A pair of British lads, one gay and one socialist, chafe at the restrictions of boarding school life in this period piece, which was adapted from Julian Mitchell's novel and play of the same name and loosely based on the Burgess-Maclean spy scandal of the 1950s. In the 1930s, upper-class scions Tommy Judd (Colin Firth) and Guy Bennett (Rupert Everett) are both nearing the end of their careers at an unnamed public school that bears a striking resemblance to Eton. Tommy, a Marxist intellectual, refuses to participate actively in the school's rigid social hierarchy. But Guy, when not mooning after pretty boys, angles for a position next term as one of the "gods," or master prefects, of his house. When a faculty member stumbles onto the homosexual fumblings of a pair of students, one boy commits suicide and a scandal erupts. The administration and senior students do their best to ensure nothing of this sort ever sullies their reputation again. Considering that homosexual experimentation is rampant and that Guy has slept with most of the prefects in his house, the strict new rules leave a bad taste in his mouth. They also put a damper on his Wildean lifestyle, especially after he falls hopelessly in love with James Harcourt (Cary Elwes), a dreamy boy from one of the other houses. Things come to a head when autocratic prefect Fowler (Tristan Oliver) intercepts a letter from Guy to James and sentences Guy to a savage beating. By film's end, Guy's complicity in the power games of the British class system has been challenged, and his friend Tommy's communist dogma has made a lasting impression; a framing device portrays Guy as an elderly former spy living in exile in Soviet Moscow. Another Country was shot at Cambridge, Oxford, and Althorp Hall (Princess Diana's childhood home) after the producers were denied permission to shoot at Eton. Everett and Firth both appeared in the original London theater production alongside Kenneth Branagh and Daniel Day-Lewis; on-stage, it was actually Firth who played Guy. For a more factual account of the Burgess-Maclean affair, see the TV movie An Englishman Abroad.
boarding-school, class-system, homosexual, espionage, Marxism, promiscuity, scandal, Socialism, Soviet-Union, traitor, suicide, spy