I love a good period thriller and anything set or made in England generally gets enough bonus points that it will automatically get at least 3 stars on the Netflix rating system from me. This movie did not disappoint on any level. Beautifully shot and expertly acted, although with an all star cast how could it not be (Romola Garai plays the main character with Bill Nighy, Eddie Redmayne, Christopher Lee, Julie Christie, Hugh Bonneville, and David Tennant playing some of her friends and family), the film brings together many different elements to capture the dreary yet frantic feel of life before the war broke out. While I was born over 45 years later, I imagine it to be a time between a dream and reality, where you were trying desperately to cling to some kind of illusion of safety and happiness while the awful truth that you were trying to avoid of Hitler and the Nazi regime lurked around the corner.
Garai plays Anne, who her brother calls Glorious, a bit part actress in London. The adopted oldest child of a member of Parliament, she does not have to work but she likes the drama and fun of it. Her silly blissfully ignorant life turns serious after a friend goes off an a political rant at her father's birthday and turns up dead. This is the first in a long line of events that leads to Anne questioning what the government is doing to people who want to go to war and if her family has any part in it. I won't go into too much detail about the story though because I don't want to give away all the clues.
Part of the reason I think this movie rated so highly for me is because it's not just about the mystery. At the beginning of the movie Anne lives in a fantasy world free of drama or the harsh realities of life. She works because she wants to, not because she has to. She throws fancy parties, plays with her adult siblings in country side ruins, and still adheres to rules given to them as children. But she was adopted into this life, and while she never outright says she wonders where she came from, you get the feeling that as the movie progresses deep down she knows she doesn't belong with her family. The story is about her growing up, finding out who she is, and what her place in the world might be.
And of course the excellent costumes don't hurt either. Definitely a must for any Anglophile or anyone into anything from the pre-war/WWII era.