EVERYDAY ON MY ROUTE TO AND from the office, I pass a house that is up for sale. It has been nearly seven months now that the FOR-SALE sign has been out by the street curb. I do not know how big an acre of land is, but there is enough land around the structure where two more houses could easily be built on it. The land slopes up from the curb to the white painted house, giving off the look of a southern plantation home. With green painted shutters and a thick white pillar on either side of the front door with its brass door knocker, I do not understand why the house has not found a buyer; from my view, it looks like something used on a movie set. When I found the listing for it online, I went through all the photos of the interior, and I was stunned. The rooms were extremely small with just as small doorways. I could not imagine how furniture would fit through any of the doors. The kitchen was nasty looking, with ancient appliances, broken cabinet doors and old fixtures. Upstairs there were four bedrooms and each one was oddly shaped due to the pitch of the roof and the support beams. To look out the window of one of the rooms, one would have to stoop over to avoid hitting their head on the ceiling. This house was in desperate need of a big remodeling. THIS ONE HOUSE HAS CHANGED MY perception of large, fancy homes; or as what I refer to them as, McMansions. The most beautiful homes with perfectly manicured lawns and the best curbside appeal may only be a façade. I am always looking at the homes listed in the real estate section of the newspapers and now wonder what might lie behind their walls. Firstly, I do not understand why someone needs a huge house unless they have a lot of family members living with them. Homes that are over 10,000 square feet with a multitude of bathrooms make no sense to me. Why would the occupants need so many rooms? Then there are the “super” mansions that are massive beyond anything that I would consider being practical. I sit and imagine what rooms get used in a day, week, or month; trying to list in my head every conceivable function that would require its own separate room. Even coming up with obscure hobbies or uses, I can see a maximum of needing maybe twelve rooms and that is including four bedrooms and a den. Keeping up maintenance would be a nightmare; I saw proof of it in this romantic drama. ALLOWING A MOVIE STUDIO TO SET up in their home was more of a necessity for the Grantham family because they needed the funds for repairs. Also, the timing was perfect since they discovered the inheritance of a French villa. With Hugh Bonneville (Paddington franchise, Notting Hill) as Robert Grantham, Jim Carter (The Good Liar, Shakespeare in Love) as Mr. Carson, Michelle Dockery (Non-Stop, The Gentleman) as Lady Mary, Elizabeth McGovern (The Chaperone, The Wife) as Cora Grantham and Allen Leech (Bohemian Rhapsody, The Imitation Game) as Tom Branson; one need not see the first film to enjoy this sequel. I am not familiar with the television series, so the first thirty minutes were a struggle for me; however, I soon settled in to experience a time gone by with the members of this household. The idea for the story was a stretch; I would have been more curious if the writers had gone down the other path, they introduced into the story line regarding Hugh’s character. Either way, fans of the series will not be disappointed with this film. As for me, I wound up enjoying spending the time with the Grantham family, though I wondered what else in the house needed repair.
SEVERAL YEARS AGO, IN MY HOMETOWN there was a trial where the children of the deceased were suing their stepmother. She was the beneficiary of her husband’s estate according to the will; the children would only receive a nominal amount of money. They were quite upset as you can imagine; especially, because they felt their stepmother only married their father for his money. I should mention the stepmother was 30 years younger than her husband. Now before you question whether I might be subtly being judgmental, I have known both married and dating couples who have had a wide difference between their ages. They were happy together and I was happy for them. What made this trial curious to me was the fact the couple had been married only a couple of years after a brief dating period. It is funny, the only time I might become aware of such cases is when money plays a factor. To be honest I do wonder at times what a couple has in common when they are generations apart. Wasn’t there a celebrity case where the age difference was 40+ years? I would be interested to see, if money was not part of the package would the younger person still be interested in the individual? WITHIN THE CIRCLES OF PEOPLE I have encountered I have met those who were aggressive in finding a mate. There was a woman who researched the men she dated. When I say research, she would try to get her hands on their credit report, use a friend at the Department of Motor Vehicles to see if the potential mate had a driving record, along with looking for any type of criminal activity. It was startling to see what lengths she would go to filter out those she felt were not suitable love interests. I found it offensive when someone would tell me they did not see themselves with the person they were dating but continued to stick around because they liked the attention and gifts they were getting from the person. To me, people like this are just being mercenary, taking advantage of the individual’s kindness. Maybe these people know they are being taken advantage of; then in that case, I have nothing to say about it. There are all kinds of people out there and what works for one may not work for the other. You might not believe what some people will do for love; for example, the couple in this dramatic thriller may surprise you. THERE WAS SOMETHING ROY COURTNEY AND Betty McLeish, played by Ian McKellen (The Lord of the Rings franchise, Mr. Holmes) and Helen Mirren (The Queen, Anna), saw that attracted them to each other. The question however, what exactly was it? With Russell Tovey (The History Boys, Looking-TV) as Stephen, Jim Carter (Downton Abbey, The Oxford Murders) as Vincent and Mark Lewis Jones (Little White Lies, Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi) as Bryn; this film shined because of Helen and Ian. They were wonderful to watch and truly did an amazing job with their characters. At times the story played like an Agatha Christie or Dan Brown novel with its twists and turns. The script kept me engaged until it got closer to the end where I was left disappointed; I did not care for the way the story ended. It came across to me as if it was done for a quick way to get out of the tale the story had woven. Too bad because with a little more tweaking and building up more depth to the characters this film could have been an attention grabber. I did not feel used buying a ticket to see this movie; however, I would have appreciated getting more for my money.
2 ½ stars