21st Dec2017

‘The L-Shaped Room’ Blu-ray Review

by Paul Metcalf

Stars: Leslie Caron, Anthony Booth, Avis Bunnage, Patricia Phoenix, Verity Edmett, Tom Bell, Cicely Courtneidge, Emlyn Williams, Jennifer White, Brock Peters, Gerry Duggan, Mark Eden | Written and Directed by Bryan Forbes


When watching a British film from the sixties, the realistic discussion of such things as growing up as a single parent, or considering abortion wasn’t something you’d expect to see in a film set in London. The L-Shaped Room though is one of the few that took a look at society, family, and love and didn’t hide from the awkward truths.

Jane Fosset (Leslie Caron) is an unmarried and pregnant French woman who finds a small seedy London boarding house with a room available. Struggling with the idea of having an abortion, at first the last thing she needs is to make friends with the misfits who live there. Slowly getting to know them though she soon becomes one of them, as well as falling in love with Toby (Tom Bell).

In the fifties and sixties, it is historically known that it was frowned upon to be pregnant out-of-wedlock. It seems old-fashioned now of course, but back then, it was how it was. Abortion was also illegal at the time, which complicates Jane’s situation even more.

The L-Shaped Room is named as one of the “New Wave” films that were coming out at the time, and what these movies did was to tap into the real world for inspiration. What we see with Jane is a character that is an outsider, not only because she is a single woman but also the fact she is foreign. We see many signs around the London in the film of it being a city still healing from the war, and the fact she is French is brought up many times.

What should be seen about Jane though is in truth where she comes from has nothing really to do with it. She is a strong individual who is dealing with her life how she sees fit. Even in becoming pregnant, she doesn’t point to the fact she was in love with somebody, in her view she only had sex to escape being a virgin. It was the only time she did it (before Toby) and in many ways, he appears to be her first love.

Toby represents a more independent man too, he looks upon the more stereotypical British men and comments on how they appear to hate to be happy, and it is obvious that he does love Jane. The problem is when he finds out she is pregnant. The fact that this gets between them in many ways shows a prejudice, but it is one that could be worked past, if he wanted to.

What makes L-Shaped Room work is that it builds up the feeling of community in the little boarding house, and the misfit characters work to make it feel like a home, even for the audience. It is full of interesting and real characters that we grow to like. The fact that Toby doesn’t act the way we want in many ways feels a betrayal, but there is always that hope that he and Jane will become a family with the child.

What really seals the film’s success though is the ending, which gives it the name “The L-Shaped Room”. I won’t spoil it, but it ends in a way as to make you wonder what will happen in the future of the characters, and it is one of those endings that you dread coming because you feel it heading your way. While you may feel slightly cheated, it does end in a way though that lets you decide the fate, though I’m sure I know most people will choose.

If you’ve not seen The L-Shaped Room this newly released Blu-Ray is the perfect chance to pick it up. Newly restored the picture quality and sound makes the film chime. The real charm though is the performance by Leslie Caron, who really makes the film one not to be missed.

***** 5/5

The L-Shaped Room is available on DVD and Blu-ray in the UK now.

Review originally posted on PissedOffGeek

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