Plenty – A Study in Self Destruction
“Plenty” was a very difficult movie for me to watch and I found myself needing to pause periodically to take a break from it. I had a hard time trying to understand Streep’s character Susan Traherne and the motivations behind some of the decisions she made. This is going to be one of the movies in my collection which is going to require multiple viewings before the full extent of the story and character’s issues sink in for me. Luckily there is also a director’s explanation of different elements of the film which has helped to make things more clear to me.
The movie features an impressive cast who all give outstanding performances:
- Meryl Streep as Susan Traherne
- Charles Dance as Raymond Brock
- Tracey Ullman as Alice Park
- John Gielgud as Sir Leonard Darwin
- Sting as Mick
- Ian McKellen as Sir Andrew Charleson
- Sam Neill as Lazar
As I watched the movie I did recognize Susan’s dissatisfaction in her work and life. I think many women struggle with that – probably even more so today with many more opportunities in the job market than there were after WWII. You can drive yourself crazy wondering if you’ve made the right choice in your career path or if you’re using your skills to their best advantage. I’ve cut way back on the self destructive game of “What If” and I spend more time trying to figure out what I can do now to improve my situation or at least find something more satisfying to do.
As you can tell, I did relate on a certain level to Susan, but she is definitely a complicated character and Streep gave a wonderful performance.
Quote from Wikipedia: Movie critic Roger Ebert gave the film three-and-a-half stars out of four . He said about Ms. Streep’s performance that “it is a performance of great subtlety; it is hard to play an unbalanced, neurotic, self-destructive woman, and do it with such gentleness and charm… Streep creates a whole character around a woman who could have simply been a catalogue of symptoms.”
This movie, like a classic piece of literature, is worth owning. I plan to revisit it often.