The Ploughman’s Lunch

The Ploughman's Lunch
The Ploughman's Lunch
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Recommended by Ralph Mellon

This superb study of moral corruption, public and private, was one of the early ’80s movies hailed (wishfully) as a possible saviour of the beleaguered UK film industry.

Set during the Falkands era, as Britain veered further to the right, it features actual footage clandestinely shot at the Tory Party conference.

Jonathan Pryce plays James Penfield, a cold, quietly callous BBC radio journalist, who is working on a book about the 1956 Suez crisis. He tells people he’s either Labour or Conservative, depending on his needs, and that his elderly parents, whom he neglects, are both dead.

Abetted by his sardonic, supercilious friend (Tim Curry), James ingratiates himself with a prominent left-wing historian (Rosemary Harris), who is also an authority on Suez, in a bid to bed her daughter (Charlie Dore).

A main point of Ian McEwan’s script is that people and Governments will fabricate history quite ruthlessly to suit their own ends – a fact referenced also by the film’s odd title.

It’s a very, very well played piece of work.