Theatrical Release Date: TBC
Home Ent. Release Date: 04 Mar 2006
If anyone is in search of a film that sums up, most entertainingly, the ‘unwrap and throw-away’ relationships of people in ‘Swinging Britain’ in the mid-1960s, then John Schlesinger’s Darling is that film. Premiered in 1965, with Julie Christie consolidating her stunning Billy Liar appearance into full-length stardom, it is the story – based on fact – of a goodtime-girl of the era, a freelance female who moves from bed to bed on the presumption that fidelity means having only one man in it at a time, and opportunistically bends her ambitions to take advantage of whatever (or whoever) the moment offers her. There are three men in her life, each of whom willingly or involuntarily helps her on her way to the top. Dirk Bogarde plays a TV interviewer, an honest man striving to tell illusion from reality; Laurence Harvey, an advertising executive, totally cynical about manipulating society’s values; and Roland Curram, a gay magazine photographer battening parasitically on glossy society. There is also a ‘fourth man’ – the one whom Darling marries, only to find herself a prisoner of the smart world she has conquered. Although Darling thinks she can exploit society to her own advantage, she ends up exploited – manipulated by men who are, aptly enough, professional image-makers at a time in British life when the image said it all (or so it was thought). The film overflows its personal story to fill the screen with ‘a caustic picture-essay on London’ – as Time magazine’s critic described – which incorporates charity balls, gambling casinos, television studios and smart suburban supper-parties, awash with colour-supplement small-talk. And at the centre of it all, incarnating the decade which saw the ascension of the model girl to the status of international idol, Julie Christie gives the sort of indelible performance that made many of her subsequent roles look like Darling’s distant cousins or historical ancestors.