After feasting one’s eyes on the entire Miss Fisher series (3 seasons in toto) during quarantine, what does one select for dessert? A little more Phryne, obviously!
Now, I really wanted to love the new movie, Miss Fisher & the Crypt of Tears….
Like so many other Miss Fisher fans, I had been overjoyed to discover that, while there would be no Season 4, there would instead be a movie… and a crowd-funded one, at that! Yippee! Sure to be lots of fan-pleasing content, right? Plus the release date was very timely, being right about now.
Sigh……………………………………………………………………………………………………………… A very long sigh. It should have been such a great film. It should have had lots & lots & lots of Phryne-&-Jack romance, after we waited three seasons to get some. It should have had lavish helpings of much-loved supporting characters Dot, Hugh, Cec, Bert, et al. (Okay, the actress playing Dot had to be abroad for another show, so her absence at least is forgivable, I suppose.)
What I was not anticipating was a slightly absurd and, frankly, rather dated colonialist outing in the style of Indiana Jones, in which the Caucasian heroine parachutes in and saves the day… in which all the characters seem like muted or over-simplified or just slightly “off” versions of their original selves… and in which Phryne has lost much of her humanitarianism, in favour of bravado for its own sake. Did the writers really think, for example, that we wanted to see her quip her way frivolously through an (albeit nicely costumed) fencing match, when a heartbroken Jack is standing right outside? I even found her voice to be pitched oddly higher, in a kind of heartless trill.
So, what’s to like here? Well, I’d say the following:
- a couple more hours with Jack & Phryne (still worthwhile, in my opinion)
- the occasional clever plot point (although these are offset by the silly ones)
- the scene in the rain, plus the last 5 minutes (seriously, if you’re here for the romance, just skip to these!)
- Jack in his shirt sleeves (finally!), followed by shirtless Jack (bonus!)
- these particular costumes –>
I read one review which, while largely accurate in my opinion, derided the film as having absolutely no good costumes. Well, to each their own, but I myself always appreciate a nice black-&-white ensemble:
(And incidentally, look up Diane de Poitiers, mistress of King Henry II of France, for someone who really knew how to use this particular colour combo to her advantage):
I also invariably enjoy that “desert palette” of pale linens and sandy khaki (see my posts on Le dernier vol and Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, for similar). After all, despite its colonial / imperial associations, it’s still very sensible stuff to wear in the sun, especially when you’re as white as… well, as an Englishman (or at least an English-heritage-man).
So yes, I did find something to admire whole-heartedly in this film:
That, and the spider reference (I’m terrified of them too).
But a note to the writers & filmmakers: Next time (if there’s ever a cinematic sequel): More Jack-&-Phryne, please!!
~ costume designer: Lyn Askew ~