A Merry War
A Merry War is little more than a pleasant diversion, but sometimes a pleasant diversion is all that's called for. Based on Keep The Aspidistra Flying, a semi-autobiographical novel by George Orwell, A Merry War tells the story of Richard E. Grant, a successful writer of ad copy who yearns to compose poetry. When his boss offers him a raise and a promotion, Grant thumbs his nose and retreats down the social ladder, much to the frustration of his no-nonsense girlfriend and co-worker Helena Bonham Carter. As Grant vacillates between conspicuous consumption and impoverished asceticism, he becomes more obsessed with class and status, and less interested in poetry. But though initially convinced that wealth allows for creative freedom, he quickly discovers that the absence of money does, in its own way, offer similar intellectual benefits. Grant is appealing and energetic as the arrogant Gordon Comstock (as good a name for a wannabe poet as any), though it's hard to imagine why Carter would be attracted to such an obnoxious loudmouth. Equally fine is Grant's patient, rich, socialist friend Julian Wadham, whose interest in Grant is a big gray area. (Investment? Social experiment? Object of pity?) The socio-political observations may be better suited to Orwell's time, back when Communism and Socialism loomed larger than they do now, but as a gently romantic tale, A Merry War acquits itself nicely.