fact that Hertfordshire is fast becoming the Hollywood of England
is going to take a bit of getting used to - as location spotting
can be very distracting.
Girl, the latest film starring the sickeningly attractive Nicole
Kidman and the lovely Ben Chaplin is a case in point.
film, a romantic thriller and black comedy, directed, written and
produced by three St Albans brothers, seems to have been shot for
the most part in Hertfordshire.
this adds to its entertainment value for local cinema-goers, it
can also be off-putting as you become aware of how unfeasible some
of their journeys are.
is one superb sequence of events where, after sitting in a service
station supposedly on the M4, they resume their trip only to turn
off the A41 towards Tring and find themselves on a country lane
overlooking St Michael's church in St Albans.
spent the next 10 minutes of the film, working out the angles from
the church tower and trying to establish exactly where that road
The piece de resistence though is where Ben Chaplin runs out of
the Marlowes Shopping Centre in Hemel, straight into the Drovers
Way multi-storey car park in St Albans, bringing titters of recognition
and comment from the local audience which made my toes curl - especially
as this was a pretty crucial moment in the film!
with this are some clear soci-economic discrepancies.
character openly states that he lives in St Albans. He is stuck
in a career rut, a bank clerk who has spent 10 years missing out
on promotion. Yet he lives in a rather large house in a quiet cul-de-sac.
challenged - big house - St Albans - I think not!
could of course be a perfectly rational explanation for this - inheritence,
tabloid dream house competition etc - but it wasn't explained and
again, I spent quite a bit of the film trying to work out exactly
how good his job perks must be and planning my own career change
- to banking and that cheap mortgage. And how soon I could swap
my two-bed flat for a nice house on that new estate by the hospital!
could be why I am now not able to tell you much else about the film
- but here goes!
seemingly mild-mannered bank clerk John (Ben Chaplin) buys a mail
order bride from Russia. Nadia (Nicole Kidman) arrives soon after
and, despite the fact that she can't speak a word of English, she
seems just perfect: beautiful, attentive, loving and eager to please
and she and John find other ways of communicating.
guessed it - of course all is not what it appears, and if I go on
any further, I will completely ruin it for you.
But what I can say is that despite the fact that John and Nadia's
characters are wholly unsympathetic, they are superbly acted and
for the most part the undeniable talent of Kidman and Chaplin covers
up what is really quite basic plotline material.
could also be a moral in there somewhere I suppose, about the dangers
of meeting people off the Internet. For while Nadia brings a whole
load of trouble with her, we also learn about the quiet John's weird
is this slightly sinister side to the character that is played so
brilliantly by Chaplin. In a stroke, he can go from making the audience
laugh at him, to making them really uneasy about him.
with what seems like a perfect Russian accent, also displays some
good comic timing which makes the film's deft turn from comedy to
thriller even more stark.
some implausibilities in the plot, the film is lively, watchable
and pretty funny too. And while us locals may be somewhat distracted,
others will be entertained.
Hertfordshire the new Hollywood? Which celebs have you seen sitting
in St. Albans or walking in Watford? Have you ever been caught up