The Girl in the Picture
Written and Directed by Cary Parker
At the USA Copley
IF YOU WALKED in on John Gordon-Sinclair of Gregory's Girl in a romantic comedy in the now familiar Glasgow setting, would you think "Gregory's Girl II"? The latest Bill Forsyth film?
Unfortunately, the answer is none of the above. The Girl in the Picture has its funny moments, but writer-director Parker's Forsyth clone doesn't measure up to the original product.
Gordon-Sinclair plays Alan, a studio photographer with romantic difficulties. It's been a few years since Gregory's Girl, so Alan is to young-adult comic pathos what Gregory was to the adolescent version. Alan sets out to leave lover Mary (Irina Brook) after debating the 50 ways, only to find that Mary has taken the direct approach by packing up and moving out.
The singles world, however, doesn't prove to be all that Alan had hoped. One by one his prospects turn out to be stereotypical odd-balls. Gradually, he realizes that Mary was really the one for him. Will he get her back? Well, this is romantic comedy.
On the journey through Alan's love life, we encounter several subplots. Bill (Gregor Fisher) is getting married to Annie (Caroline Guthrie). Both are amusingly nervous, which adds to Alan's own doubts about long-term relationships. Younger friend Ken (David McKay) is having difficulties getting a love life started, much less keeping one going. Photo shop owner Smiley just looks on, tending his plants.
Parker filmed The Girl in the Picture in Forsyth's vignettes-from-real-life style, but he left out a crucial ingredient. Forsyth's films have a subtle, underlying madcap element that gives his productions an air of unseen comic conspiracy intruding on the mundane world. Despite its humor and certain intermittent absurdities, The Girl in the Picture remains basically a mundane portrayal of romantic love.
Of course, there's nothing wrong with silly love songs, or silly romantic movies. But here the vignettes-from-life style makes for an awfully long 90 minutes of movie, and the random symbols of love, and fertility thrown in at every opportunity don't speed it up.
Parker's picture is no artistic sequel to Gregory's Girl or any of Forsyth's other works. This Scottish stew has more sugar than spice.