20th century, costume in cinema

Movie (okay, TV miniseries) Review: Birdsong (2012)

Starring Eddie Redmayne and Clemence Poesy.  Costumes designed by Charlotte Walter.

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I’ve had this book in my “to read” pile for years, and never gotten around to it.  Yay! said I, when I heard there would be a TV adaptation.  I can decide if I like the story enough to read the book!  The answer:  nope.

I’m not sure if it’s the plot or the production, but it just felt totally lackluster.  Stephen is an Englishman who meets and falls for the married Isabelle, and she for him.  World War I intervenes, and Stephen has a miserable time in the trenches.  The two find each other again, but are ultimately parted by Random Issues That Would Never Really Keep Anyone Apart.  This all (minus the ending) sounds okay, right?  But it’s just a big ball of MEH.  Neither Redmayne nor Poesy give an inspired performance, and their characters are relatively spineless and annoying.  Visually, it’s fine, but the costumes are very “Hey! We’re casual people wearing modern clothes!”  That’s not to say I think they should be dressing like the Tsar/Tsarina of Russia, just that there are ways to make middle class clothing interesting, but the costumer doesn’t do so here.

My rating:  1 (out of 5)

If you like this era, you might also want to check my Edwardian Costume Movie Reviews.  I specifically recommend the following World War I costume movies:  Downton Abbey (2010) and The Winslow Boy (1999).  If you’re down with the cheese, then I also recommend In Love and War (1996).

What did you think?  Have you watched it, and if so, did Redmayne/Poesy annoy you to death?  Do you remember any of the costumes?

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  • Reply annaintechnicolor September 18, 2012 at 9:19 pm

    I actually really liked this miniseries (I totally have a thing for Eddie Redmayne, if that helps), although mostly fast-forwarded during the trench and war parts (I’d much rather look at the pretty costumes!). That being said, I do totally agree with you when it comes to the “Random Issues That Would Never Really Keep Anyone Apart” aspect of the storyline. ;)

    • Reply kendra September 19, 2012 at 10:36 am

      Anna: Having a thing for Eddie would have probably helped me! Did you really think the costumes were all that interesting, though? I kept hoping there’d be SOMETHING that would catch my eye, but I thought it was all a big snooze!

      And yeah, the Random Issues That Would Never Really Keep Anyone Apart — I was all “HUH??!!!!?? That SO is not a crisis and could easily be resolved through ONE FRICKIN’ CONVERSATION.”

  • Reply annaintechnicolor September 19, 2012 at 5:37 pm


    As for the costumes, there wasn’t anything in particular that was interesting or stood out for me (except when her sister came to visit her and Eddie Redmayne in that little French cottage and her skirt looked way too short!), but I did like the very graceful overall look that Clemence Posey had going on.

    Actually, my favorite costume was probably Eddie Redmayne’s sweater when he was chopping wood. ;) But that’s probably because it was something other than the military uniform or tuxedo he seemed to be in all the time. ;)

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