“The Girl in the Cafe” Review

Last night’s globalisation rom-com may be, as CNN put it ‘the best romantic comedy set at a G-8 summit you’re ever likely to see.’ But it was also the best thing Richard Curtis has written in a long while, bringing together the Comic Relief co-founder’s long standing commitment in irradicating poverty with his line in humourous tales of awkward-but-likeable British romatic misfits.

Whilst the plot itself may have merely been a container for a series of devastating statistics about African poverty, Bill Nighy and Kelly MacDonald gave outstanding performances as a lonely and overworked civil servant and a shy, quiet girl he shares a table with in a Whitehall cafe. David Yates (who directed both leads in the fantastic State of Play) creates plenty of Lost in Translation style hotel awkwardness, and it’s beautifully shot, with the stunning Icelandic scenery emphasising the loneliness of the leads.

In this resolutely British TV movie (broadcast on both sides of the Atlantic) Curtis has restrained his usual tendency towards the syrupy, not only allowing his trademark dialogue to sparkle, but also paring down the politics to a simple question of priorities. Whilst it can’t resist preaching, the film doesn’t provide easy answers – it puts the difficult questions without the usual cliches, recognising the good intentions of our politicians and the damage caused by simplistic anti-globalisation rhetoric.

Quietly, and insistently, the girl in the cafe reminds us, and the politicians, that these issues are too important to compromise and refuses to allow us to ignore the opportunity with which we are being presented.

About Simon Wood

E-learning officer, lapsed mathematician, Doctor Who fan and garden railway builder. See simonwood.info for more...

12 thoughts on ““The Girl in the Cafe” Review

  1. How interesting that I was just listening to a discussion on the very televisual delight. It seems that many agree with you, Simon.

  2. I enjoyed the programme so much, I didn’t even realise that it was Richard Curtis behind it. Bill Nighy’s nervous uncomfortableness made me feel for him, rather than annoy me the way Hugh Grant usually would. As you say, excellent in spite of the occasional lecturing. It even made me feel the licence fee was justified.

  3. I enjoyed the programme so much, I didn’t even realise that it was Richard Curtis behind it. Bill Nighy’s nervous uncomfortableness made me feel for him, rather than annoy me the way Hugh Grant usually would. As you say, excellent in spite of the occasional lecturing. It even made me feel the licence fee was justified.

  4. Praise indeed. I can’t remember the last time I thought that the licence fee was justified. Makes me wish I’d been sitting in front of the box instead of planning new and ingenius ways to bring about the downfall of Chris de Burgh. Although since Richard Whiteley’s demise, I’m feeling a bit guilty about hexing minor celebrities.

  5. Sorry to be pedantic but I can’t overlook, nor forgive, the use of the adjective ‘minor’ in a description of the late great Richard Whiteley. He was after all the first face to be seen on Channel 4, the most innovative and forward thinking terrestrial channel in our great nation. Rise in Peace Richard!

  6. Sorry to be pedantic but I can’t overlook, nor forgive, the use of the adjective ‘minor’ in a description of the late great Richard Whiteley. He was after all the first face to be seen on Channel 4, the most innovative and forward thinking terrestrial channel in our great nation. Rise in Peace Richard!

  7. I don’t know, Simon, I personally think children’s programmes should be free.

    You’re right about Chris de Burgh though. Marcusortense is, however, clearly misguided about Richard Whiteley who, if anything, deserves a more diminuitive expression of celebrity rather than a posthumous elevation to the ranks of the late and great. Sorry marcus, not great, just late.

  8. Sounds like you’ve got over your guilt, tar baby. And call me a crazy-son-of-Steiner, but I’m not at all sure children should have programmes. Do you think they should be given free televisions too, to watch them on?

  9. Sounds like you’ve got over your guilt, tar baby. And call me a crazy-son-of-Steiner, but I’m not at all sure children should have programmes. Do you think they should be given free televisions too, to watch them on?

  10. Yes, and free square glasses for when their eyesight goes and free labotomies to stop them thinking for themselves. Infact I think compulsory education should be scrapped in order to fund the scheme as anything they don’t learn on telly, they don’t need to know anyway.

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