In 1960’s England, a steam train meanders through the countryside and on board is sweet young and heavily pregnant Rosie Jones (played by Emilia Fox). Rosie’s huge cabin trunk is in the baggage car and it suddenly starts to leak … blood. At the next station, the police meet Rosie and escort her and her trunk from the train, while she sweetly explains why she has just killed her husband. Rosie is admitted to a mental institution for recovery. Over forty years later, in the sleepy northern English hamlet of Little Wallop, Reverend Walter Goodman (by Rowan Atkinson) is tending to his parisoners, while his wife Gloria (by Kristin Scott Thomas) does her best to manage their growing children, Holly (by Tasmin Egerton) and Petey (by Toby Parkes) and ignore the fact that their lives have become rather stale and empty. In her dissatisfaction, Gloria starts to weaken to the advances of the local golf pro, Lance (by Patrick Swayze) and considers running away with him – but then their new housekeeper, Grace Hawkins (by Maggie Smith) arrives. She is so sweet, she immediately has a huge impact on the family and life starts to take a turn for the better … niggling problems mysteriously start to resolve themselves – are we imagining this or are the people causing the problems just disappearing? …. perhaps Grace isn’t quite as sweet as she seems?
At first glance, this movie doesn’t really promise much – but it really is good. Rowan Atkinson is just sublime as the absent-minded but sweet Walter. He’s marvellous with his flock, particularly his most entertaining parishioner, Mrs Parker, beautifully played by Liz Smith. Grace is a strong character and Kristin Scott Thomas portrays her perfectly., The children Tasmin Egerton and Toby Parkes are both well cast and provide great characters. Best performances are Rowan Atkinson, Maggie Smith (she is exquisite as the sweet, but “more lurks below” Grace – the movie totally belongs to her) and Patrick Swayze, who is totally fabulous as the cringe-worthy letcherous Lance. It’s actually very good and a huge surprise as it becomes a truly entertaining movie. Well done all.
Made in 2005. Directed by Niall Johnson.