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Vera Drake

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Fantastic movie, Vera Drake.
Finally saw it tonight on DVD.

The dramatic action in the
film is between Vera and the state for sure, but it is underwritten by a
conflict between incommensurable vocabularies. For the cop, the magistrate,
what Vera’s done is “abortion.” But she denies that this is what she’s done: “I’ve
helped young girls in trouble.”

The Latinate language of law
against the old city of words where Vera lives and acts. The expression on the
actress’s face upon hearing the word “abortion,” the shock, says all that needs
to be said. It is as if she is hearing the word, even thinking it, for the
first time. The Latin wears a wig, searches for a defendant to accuse. The
other – and what do we call the English that Vera speaks? – looks for work,
helps out where it can…

(I had heard that the
"accents" were thick enough that Americans could use subtitles at times – and this
proved to be true. It took awhile to realize that Leigh had a point in doing it
this way…)
Finally, Vera’s businesslike
manner in administering the wash of carbolic soap and water testifies against
the psychologism of our time. The fact that even the most neutral description
of the “way things really are” whispers an order, a command.

The modal shift, in which
each declarative sentence is an imperative statement in disguise:  “Women suffer psychological difficulties as a
result of an abortion” becomes “Women, suffer psychological difficulties as a
result of an abortion.”

Written by adswithoutproducts

April 24, 2005 at 12:35 am

Posted in Film

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