The L-Shaped Room

The L-Shaped Room
(Bryan Forbes, 1962)
Rating: 4/5
Reviewed by Dave Lancaster
Summary: Fantastic acting dominates this regal classic of early 60s London squalor and oppression. A real 'kitchen sink' classic.
There isn't a drop of sentimentality in Bryan Forbes' grimy adaptation of Lynne Reid Banks' classic novel The L-Shaped Room.
Shot in the kind of monochrome that wouldn't look out of place weaved into a noir thriller ala The Big Sleep or The Sweet Smell of Success, Forbes's film does a great job at establishing a harsh view of London's underbelly - jazz clubs, dirty streets and, most importantly, a seedy boarding house.
We see the film from a newcomer's set of eyes. Leslie Caron bagged an Oscar nomination as Jane, a French girl who moves to London and ends up being pressured to get rid of her unborn baby. Along the way she'll interact with a rogue's gallery of other social outcasts or abusers of power in a narrative that must have been quite incendiary in its day.
But this is not some cheap exploitation to draw a curious audience in. There are tender, quiet moments of thunder that simmer throughout the tricky story and it's all held together by nuanced performances and brilliant photography that are guided with regal skill by Forbes (Whistle Down the Wind).
Speaking of brilliant photography, this new restoration looks absolutely superb via the new StudioCanal Blu-ray. No doubt, it's the best The L-Shaped Room has ever looked on home video.
Special features:
  • New interview with Leslie Caron
  • New interview with author Lynne Reid Banks
  • The L Shaped Room and the British New Wave featurette
  • Stills Gallery

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