Perfect Parents (review)
I love Christopher Eccleston. Loved him long before Doctor Who. (Hell, when I heard he was gonna be the new Doctor, I did a little Snoopy dance.) So his presence was all I needed to make me check out this made-for-British movie, produced after his Whos and written and directed by Joe Ahearne, who directed Eccleston in five episodes of that series. That the movie, an ITV production, turns out to be so weirdly, ambiguously intriguing is a wonderful bonus. Eccleston (The Seeker: The Dark Is Rising) is regular-bloke Stuart, who works as an auto mechanic and is married to Alison (the lovely Susannah Harker: the 1995 miniseries Pride and Prejudice), who works in some undefined office job: the point is, they’re not rich, not by a long shot. And so when their young daughter, Lucy (newcomer Maddy Garrood, in a suprisingly mature performance), comes home from school one day with someone else’s blood on her sneakers and cell-phone video of a violent playground fight — this is elementary school, as we’d call it in the States, that we’re talking about here — well, the couple is desperate to get the kid into a better educational environment. Trouble is — imagine Eccleston’s dishy Northern accent — no muhnay. With private schools out, they turn to a free Catholic school with an impeccable reputation and one requirement: followers of the faith only. Now the trouble is… Stuart and Alison are atheists. What follows from here, as the family decides to pretend to be Catholic to get Lucy a spot in the school, could have gone in a dozen different directions, and where it goes isn’t one of the ones I’d imagined. And I don’t want to spoil that for you, because the magnificent sense that you’re not sure what kind of movie you’re watching is so rare that it demands to be savored and appreciated one viewer at a time. I will say this: as a dark, bitter, grim satire on the lengths that people will go to in the name of their children, this is an unforgettable little flick.