A great director, two award-winning actors and an impeccable screenplay (as well as a poster with a wonderful image by Andy Warhol): these are the ingredients of “Turtle Diary” a pleasant, well-made and little-known film written by Harold Pinter and based on the novel by American author Russell Hoban.
The film, directed by John Irvin and in which Pinter plays a small cameo, is the story of a middle-aged man and woman, trapped in their unsatisfactory lives which they have become completely numb to.
William Snow – masterfully played by Ben Kingsley – is an aspiring businessman, divorced, who has left the hectic rhythm of London’s City to work in a book shop. William’s existence drags on, day after day, with no objective and without hope.
Neaera Duncan (Glenda Jackson) is a writer of children’s books who, having got bored of mice and bunny rabbits, leads a solitary life, in which her only companion is a beetle which she keeps, to help her find inspiration.
Two quiet lives of desperation that meet at London’s aquarium.
Both are fascinated by the wonderful marine turtles.
Both suffer for the lives of those creatures trapped in narrow transparent tubs.
Two lives that intersect and regain momentum thanks to a common project; give the turtles back their freedom. And so, with the aquarium guardian’s complicity, they carry out their crazy plan and the turtles are freed one evening on a Devon beach.
A film with a happy ending, marked by profound introspection and British humour, which analyses the themes of living together, of the tendency to isolate oneself, of solitude: “… it is in the creases of the lives of the three characters, in their anxiety and loneliness, in their love stories, however fragile, that the best parts of the film are hidden. And above all, Pinter’s hand is evident, enriching the inspiring tale with little, sometimes even mischievous, details…Studied pauses highlight the existential emptiness of a children’s author experiencing a loss of inspiration and a book store assistant with the promise of a great career behind him. The episode with the turtles will give their lives a new balance: and if love doesn’t happen, it merely confirms that we are always one step ahead of the banality of a happy ending. Even environmentally speaking.” (Gabriele Porro, ‘Il Giorno’ newspaper)
Ph Cover: Samuel Goldwyn – Harold Pinter , Ben Kingsley