Just Henry

That was a nice film, featuring postwar Britain and cinemas and some family shenanigans. But it wasn’t Just Henry as I know it. Having blogged on Bookwitch earlier today about the difficulties of adapting books to screen or stage, and having to cut viciously, this ITV production proved it.

Characters went missing to the point of confusion and had to double up, also to the point of confusion. But it’s a necessary evil, so is OK. Simplifying the plot is also necessary, cutting subplots you can do without. I’m just wondering if Just Henry could have done with being 30 minutes longer? If you hadn’t read the book, did it seem like a complete and understandable story?

I was sitting there thinking, ‘oops, there went more part of the plot,’ and ‘oh, dear, there we lost another…’

But, as I said, it was a nice enough period film. This time with both my green teacups as well as their yellow sister teacups.

The movies aspect of Michelle Magorian’s book was almost totally gone. They went to see a few films – someone likes The Third Man a little bit too much – and the cinema was a glorious venue in which to meet, but the movies and the school project were severely lacking. And  I missed the marvellous sisterhood development between all the mothers.

Sheila Hancock, Josh Bolt, Dean Andrews and Elaine Cassidy in Just Henry, ITV

So it was mainly the messy family situation left, with dead father, remarried mother, new stepfather, nasty grandmother (Sheila Hancock certainly knew what she was doing there! She was magnificent! I daresay she had to make up for John Thaw’s kind old man in Goodnight Mister Tom…) and the not so dead father after all. That’s enough plot for any film, albeit confusing for us book-readers. (I spoke to Daughter who had slight problems getting to grips with the abridgedness of the tale.)

Cutting bits out is OK, when time is at a premium. So why add new things that weren’t in the book? Mrs Beaumont and the belt was a very unpleasant addition. What good did it do?

Stockport Plaza

Finally, the Plaza cinema felt awfully familiar. And that would be because it was ‘our’ Plaza. Filmed on location in Leeds, it is clear that Leeds has grown a lot and now incorporates Stockport as well as some sea or other. And on that basis I have to agree with Grace when she tells Henry that Manchester isn’t so very far away.

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