Dir: Giles Foster, 1988
Monty Python members Michael Palin and Terry Jones, are incredibly gifted in their wit and imagination regarding all things dark. Adding their own secret ingredient to a rather fragile formula, Jones and Palin can make comedy out of the absurd and grotesque.
Their 1973 BBC teleplay, Secrets, is here updated and expanded upon; guided by the constraints of cinema etiquette instead of the censorial and time restricted rules laid down by Britain’s tain’s foremost television station.
Palin and Jones’ original was more drama with a very thin vein of humour running through it. With a length of just over fifty minutes, Secrets was overstretched as it was, so to add an extra half hour just makes the proceedings even slower and, ultimately, lacklustre.
Foster’s interpretation of the play is a much more heavy handed affair, putting a great emphasis on the comedy and substituting slapstick for subtlety. However, it just doesn’t work. Butterworth’s Ian Littleton is too much of a buffoon to be believable or even likeable. Sammi Davis is unrealistic in her portrayal as the quality control/amateur scientist. Feigning a strong and unrealistic northern accent, Davis is meant to be charming and drawing but the whole character fails. She also has the secondary role of the love interest to Butterworth, but the pair don’t gel and seem incompatible.
Respected veteran actor Jonathan Pryce is out of his depth as the smarmy yuppie, dishing out orders as a subordinate and mutiny coursing through his character.
All in all, Consuming Passions is too farcical to be successful; the comedy broad and the plot uninteresting.
This is one recipe that you wouldn’t want to consume.