Journalist Lynn Barber’s spiky memoir of striking up a relationship with an older man in early ’60s Discuss this article
Journalist Lynn Barber’s spiky memoir of striking up a relationship with an older man in early ’60s London has been turned into an accessible comedy romance by screenwriter Nick Hornby. It’s true that Barber saw more absurdity than seediness in her youthful engagement to a criminal Jack the Lad at the same time as she was preparing to apply to Oxford. But Hornby softens the edges further so that David (Peter Sarsgaard) is more charming than predatory. The paedophile question is side-stepped entirely, even turned into a gag, and good-looking, redeemable Sarsgaard doesn’t appear to be in his late thirties, as Barber assumes in her memoir, even if he claimed to be 27 to her 16.
Danish director Scherfig and star Carey Mulligan give the film weight by surrounding this lightly played, strange romance with both an acute understanding of Barber’s endearing screen alter ego, Jenny (Mulligan), and incisive material about the differences between this know-it-all young lady and her less worldly mum and dad – through them we see the first chink of light in the generation gap that would widen during the decade.
There’s a persistent comic tone that makes the light treatment of Jenny and David’s affair more palatable than it should be. Mulligan’s performance, too, does much to compensate for some of the film’s less convincing, broader moments.By Dave Calhoun
Time Out Doha,