Bill Forsyth Is a "Boutique" Director in the Best Sense
BY DENNIS KING
NEW YORK – It might sound a little precious to say so, but Bill Forsyth is in the best sense a “boutique” filmmaker.
This singular Scottish writer-director has only nine modestly budgeted movies on his resume, and each of them is a unique gem – lovingly crafted, keenly intelligent and invested with an idiosyncratic, handmade quality that renders it wholly novel.
Although he hasn’t released a film in more than a decade, Forsyth still attracts a loyal following of fans who share his earthy, eccentric take on life and continue to admire his originality in movies such as “Gregory’s Girl,” “Local Hero” and “Housekeeping.”
It’s those three films that will be featured in a two-part “special event” beginning this week at New York’s fabulous Film Forum.
On Thursday, a spanking new 35mm print of “Housekeeping,” Forsyth’s 1987 adaptation of the Marilynne Robinson novel, will be screened at the Greenwich Village theater, followed by an appearance by Forsyth himself in an interview with James Healy, assistant curator of the George Eastman House of Rochester, N.Y.
The next Thursday, April 22, will feature showings of Forsyth’s quirky 1981 coming-of-age comedy “Gregory’s Girl” and his 1983 small-village masterpiece “Local Hero.” Naturally, it would take a heroic effort for Oklahoma fans of Forsyth to attend these events, but all of the director’s films are readily available on DVD. So the occasion provides an opportune time to revisit these or other of his remarkable works.
“Housekeeping,” Forsyth’s first American film, is set in the Pacific Northwest of the 1950s. In it, orphaned Sara Walker and Andrea Burchill are “rescued” by a relative they’ve never met – Christine Lahti’s Aunt Sylvie, whose kookie lifestyle proves not nearly as charming as it seems on first blush. Michael Wilmington of the Los Angeles Times wrote of the movie, “Forsyth – though his palette here is grayer and cloudier than in any of his earlier films – keeps his sense of wonder. The sadness of ‘Housekeeping’ is twisted into its bemusement and reverie, its oddball charm. It’s a lovely, strange little film – quietly, tensely lovely ….”
“Gregory’s Girl”: Desperate after an 8-game losing streak, a Glasgow school soccer team recruits a hotshot female player; and although demoted to goalie, teenage knucklehead Gordon John Sinclair falls hard for her. But there are behind-the-scenes feminine conspiracies at work here. “The movie contains so much wisdom about being alive and teenaged and vulnerable that maybe it would even be painful for a teenager to see it,” wrote Roger Ebert.
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