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Housewife, 49 is based on accounts taken from the wartime diary of Nella Last. With an outstanding performance from Victoria Wood who is notable in my opinion for her comical genius. Among her achievements is Dinner ladies, a comic take on life as a factory dinner lady.
Written and starred in by Victoria wood, I think she has out done herself on both fronts. In my opinion she has successfully achieved a brilliant account of home front life during world war two.
Nella was married to Will Last referred to as "Daddy" during the film played by David Threlfall; Nella also had two grown boys, Arthur and cliff played by Ben Crompton and Christopher Harper.
Nella appears at the beginning of the film to be a downtrodden weak woman; her husband seeming to be completely dull and boring. You see that for Nella the war was her salvation. You watch her grow from a weak and unhappy woman with low self esteem into a strong independent woman able to take on the world. This is an inspirational film where you discover what everyday life was really like for normal people during the war years.
The film starts with Nella meeting Mrs. Waite at a Woman Voluntary service stand, Mrs Waite played by Stephanie Cole is an overpowering strong willed character who at first intimidates Nella and initially scares her off. Nella has had nervous problems in the past and the outbreak of war has made her nerves worse. She decides that in order to help herself that she will right to mass observation, a non-government scheme to chronicle the lives of ordinary people.
She has an extremely close bond with her youngest son Cliff; Cliff encourages her to get help for her nerves and to write to mass observation. Nella also decides to try Woman's voluntary service where she meets Mrs Waide again; she really enjoys her time there and is extremely positive when she returns home. Her husband is his normal negative self, and puts Nella down.
Arthur is shipped to Ireland for work and cliff is sent a training camp as a training instructor. Nella continues to go to the WVS and in proves a wonderful asset to Nella. She opens up and develops a great friendship with Mrs. Waide, when Mrs Waide is bombed out Nella clambered over the rumble in a siren suit to ensure she is safe. However when Nella agrees to help another lady in addition to Mrs Waide; Mrs Waide is upset and in turn upsets Nella who shies away from helping as often. Although they do both make things up and everything return to normal.
Nella also has a great relationship with an overpowering neighbour who brings an element of humour without being disrespectful of the topic the film is addressing.
During the film you realise the losses that people of the home front would have experienced, not only loses of the men fighting abroad, but the loss of people at home from bombings.
They start up a shop to help with POW package which becomes a huge success.
During this time Cliff decides to leave his post as PT instructor and goes to war; the ship he is on is sunk and Nella receives a telegram to say that he is missing. In time he discovered but his relationship with his mother is changed.
Nellas relationship with her husband changes throughout the film with Nellas new assertive attitude she no longer allows him to bring her down.
At the end of the film Nella and cliff reunite and clear the air. However the relationship with her husband is completely improved for the better.
The film explores the complicated relationships of mother and son, husband and wife along with wartime anxieties. You begin to discover the complexities that war brought to life on the home front. Not only the negative aspect of life but also the positive impacts war brought.
The film is set in the north of England, in burrow-in-Furness, which has a dock yard so would have been a prime target for Nazi bombers.
Housewife 49 is an ITV production and is rated PG which is parental guidance recommended for children under twelve years of age. The film is approximately 93 minutes long.
I highly recommend this film to anyone who is fascinated by the home front and all its intricacies. This film sensitively portrays Nella Lasts life. The DVD was released in May 2007.
Victoria Wood- Nella Last
David Threlfall- Will Last(Daddy)
Ben Crompton- Arthur
Sally Bankes-Mrs Whittaker
Stephanie Cole- Mrs Waide
Marcia Warren-Mrs Lord
Sylvestra Le Touzel-Mrs Lynch
Wendy Nottingham-Miss Finch
Jane Lowe-Mrs Higham
Dorothy Atkinson-Mrs. MacGregor
Sian Brooke-Evelyn Edwards
Laura Power-Madeleine Whittaker
Jason Watkins-Dr. Roger Brierley
Director: Gavin Miller
Producer: Piers Wenger
Executive producers: Michele Buck, Damien Timmer and Victoria Wood.
I bought this DVD from Amazon for £4.97 with free delivery and it arrived within a few days, I have not been able to find it anywhere on blu-ray.
This is an outstanding film with outstanding performances from the cast. A film I would definitely recommend. In my opinion this film is a great adaptation of the Nella Last diary. A sensitive and emotional take of very complicated issue.
In a true story based on her Mass Observation diary, housewife Nella Last is trapped in a difficult marriage and dreads her beloved son leaving to fight in the Second World War. She draws strength from the diary, writing down all the things she cannot say to her controlling husband (David Threlfall - Shameless; Patriot Games). Meanwhile the support and companionship she finds at the Women's Voluntary Service, in particular from the formidable Mrs Waite (Stephanie Cole - Tenko; Doc Marten) bring her joy and liberation during the difficult years of the war.