Review: ‘Wish You Were Here’

Set in a thoroughly uptight, provincial British seaside resort in the 1950s, this touching account of a girl's growing pains marks the directorial debut of director-scripter David Leland.

Set in a thoroughly uptight, provincial British seaside resort in the 1950s, this touching account of a girl’s growing pains marks the directorial debut of director-scripter David Leland.

What makes it interesting is the character of the heroine; her refreshing rudeness disconcerts those around her. By focusing on a spunky but troubled 16-year-old girl named Lynda (played with exasperating charm by newcomer Emily Lloyd), Leland squeezes out more poignancy than would have been possible had the central character been the typical gawky male youth of most films about sexual awakening.

What makes the girl troubled is the fact that her mother died when she was 11 – and no one has replaced that essential loss. Lynda’s reaction to her plight is to shock people with her rudeness and to taunt the opposite sex. This makes for some verbally sharp and occasionally visually eloquent scenes.

Lynda’s rebelliousness eventually leads to a potentially sinister liaison with a seedy older man (played with taciturn intensity by Tom Bell), as much a misfit as she is. Their scenes together, though quite limited, are highly charged.

Wish You Were Here

UK

Production

Zenith/Working Title. Director David Leland; Producer Sara Radclyffe; Screenplay David Leland; Camera Ian Wilson; Music Stanley Myers; Art Director Caroline Amies

Crew

(Color) Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1987. Running time: 91 MIN.

With

Emily Lloyd Tom Bell Clare Clifford Barbara Durkin Geoffrey Hutchings Jesse Birdsall

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