This week, Jennifer allowed me to chose a film and on a whim, I chose ‘The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society’ . This was, chiefly, because it sounded a bit like ‘The Dead Poets Society’ which is an old favourite of mine.
I was about to say it was fucking awful, but that would be giving it far too much credit.
I will now try to give you an idea of this deluded nostalgia fest which a critic in The Guardian described as an ‘Outbreak of World War Twee’ (I wish I’d have thought of that).
Here we go then. it’s 1946 and you have a beautiful English rose, Juliet Ashton (Lily James) who is a writer in London. Juliette has a lovely and understanding agent, Sidney (Mathew Goode). Juliet has fallen for a dashing and wealthy American Officer, Mark Reynolds, but Sydney (who is gay) is not sure that Mark is a charming as she might think (ooh, there’s a shock).
Meanwhile, over in Guernsey, there are bunch of simpletons who, a few years earlier, under interrogation from dastardly Nazis, bumbled out that they were doing nothing wrong and were actually members of a book society called you know what.
Simple folk they may have been but one of them, a pig farmer, was a handsome and rugged looking fellow by the name of Dawsey Adams (Michiel Huisman). To prove they were not lying to the Nazi’s the book society had to become real, so Dawsey wrote to Juliette to request a copy of a book for their club. In turn, Juliette became fascinated by the curious name of the book society and wanted to know more (If you can’t see where this is going yet, I’m sorry, you are a thick as the shit that Dawsey is shovelling each day).
Juliette demanded she go to meet the society, leaving the long suffering Sydney to cancel her book signing appointments, with Mark, the rich, dashing American, getting down on one knee at Weymouth docks as peasant dock workers in the background clapped and shouted “Good on ye maam’ and “Well done sir”. Those were the good old days when a bloke would get his limbs blown off in a trench, come home to rationing and a 90 hour week on the docks, and still have the warmth of heart to cheer a brash American offering to marry an English rose.
As you can now imagine, when Juliette met the pig farmer (Dawsey) upon arriving in Guernsey, time stood still for a moment. That’s right, the beautiful writer and the rugged pig farmer had an instant connection. This was only enhanced by his gentle approach to his daughter, a beautiful young blonde girl who (call me Poirot if you must) looked suspiciously like she may have spawned from a member of the Hitler Youth.
It turned out my detective instincts were correct, as it wasn’t Dawsey’s daughter at all!!! No, it was his sister’s, who had been impregnated by a nice Nazi during the occupation (can you imagine the gossip?). Unfortunately, the local n’er do well grassed her and the Nazi up in exchange for goods, so as was the deal in the good old days, they were both disposed of. Dawsey, a normally gentle man, beat the the n’er do well up in a pub, cheered on by the locals. Dawsey was a good man, so he was. A tough man but a good man.
So, as the story unfolded, Juliette became closer to the simpletons, especially when she told them that she too had lost her closest family (her parents) in the war. She became closer to Dawsey too, even lowering herself to help him and the Nazi child in the pig sty. At this point I had to wake Jennifer up as she was snoring but she just muttered that she wanted her onesy and went back to sleep.
Then, just when Dawsey and Juliette were about to kiss for the first time, who comes along to fuck things up? That’s right, only Mark Reynolds, the brash yank, arriving on a surprise visit to whisk away his little English rose. This was my favorite scene as it featured the simpletons stood on the beach next to a donkey and cart, waving goodbye to Juliette and Mark as they flew away in an American services plane. Dawsey didn’t wave though, he was too sad.
Back in Blighty, as the wedding plans gathered pace, Juliette was unsettled, she just couldn’t stop thinking about the simpletons and in particular Dawsey with his rugged features and his wonderful ways with young children spawned by nice Nazis.
She met Mark at an expensive banquet and told him the wedding was off. This resulted in Mark showing his true colours, rudely giving her a piece of her mind, snatching the bottle of champagne from a bucket of ice and storming off. That’s the problem with yanks, they just can’t be proper gentlemen when their English rose decides they’d rather fuck a Guernsey pig farmer than move to New York.
After some obligatory drama where Dawsey and Juliette nearly missed each other at the docks, the final scene showed them lying in the grass reading to the Nazi child in what was a great demonstration of how wonderful and innocent true love was back in the good old days.
My dear old Grandma used to say that these type of films and period dramas were establishment sponsored nonsense to convince the masses that there was a golden era where the peasants and the masses lived in harmony.
I do not know if that is true or not but this utterly dreadful film did nothing to dispel her theory.