A fool and his money. In the 1930s, Adam Fenwick-Symes (Stephen Campbell Moore) is part of the English idle class, wanting to marry the flighty Nina Blount (Emily Mortimer). He’s a novelist with a one hundred-pound advance for a manuscript confiscated by English customs. He spends the next several years trying to get money and to set a wedding date. He trades in gossip, wins money on wagers, then gives it to a drunken Major (Jim Broadbent), who suggested he bet on a horse in an upcoming race. Adam tries to get the money back, but can’t find the Major. Meanwhile, Nina needs security, friends drink too much, and general unhappiness spoils the party. Then war breaks out. Is Adam’s bright youth dimming with the fall of an empire?
User Reviews: A most notable characteristic of this film is that it rather zanily merges the 1920’s with the 1930’s. That historical distortion may seem a slight defect to some viewers choosing to concentrate on a broader stage involving the upper class in its last throes of excess, but for me it destroys the underlying plot. The years before the Great Depression — the Roaring 20’s — were sui generis. Moving everything forward to events as late as 1940 is a forced element that simply fails.
Otherwise, there are some bright young moments here. Character actors do indeed steal the show, even if some are given throw-away roles. If only there were better and more believable development of various interactions between the leads, it would make for compelling drama; but we are treated instead to campy olio resolving itself into a strange conclusion, somewhat surreal. For example, the business between Adam and Ginger having to do with money as WWII rages on is misplaced farce — even if the audience assumes a generous disposition of credulity.
Little wonder outsiders looking in have a difficult time with this film, not to mention us history buffs.