By Andrea Karen Hammer
A Year in Provence is an entertaining seasonal snapshot of a London couple’s autobiographical experience adapting to a new life in France. Based on the book by Peter Mayle, the DVD allows film-like immersion in the 1993 TV mini-series.
Surprise Morning Visitors and Nighttime Escapades
The filmmaking quality and style of A Year in Provence reads like an expanded video with flat colors–contributing to the up-close-and-personal firsthand account. Indirectly humorous scenes include watching the Mayles wake up to surprise morning visitors in their kitchen and nighttime escapades searching for stolen items.
John Thaw shapes Peter Mayle as a generally kind and patient husband handling his wife’s frustrations with endless farmhouse repairs. As a collection of colorful characters land in their new home, John Thaw openly conveys the struggles of communicating in a new language as well as dealing with unwanted guests–and advances.
In a forthright style, Lindsay Duncan reveals Annie Mayle’s limitations in tolerating irritations. Although Lindsay Duncan‘s Annie is more proficient in French and often serves as the couple’s interpreter, she has a short fuse when visitors “breathe her air” or offer unusual “gifts.”
Uninvited Guests Overstaying Their Welcome
As one of the uninvited guests overstaying his welcome, Alfred Molina renders Tony Havers in his distinctively amusing manner. Watching him chow down with intensity is reminiscent of too-close-for-comfort shots of his mouth during meals in Chocolat. Alfred Molina ensures that Havers’ deliberate oblivion to his hosts’ discomfort will unsettle even Mayle’s equanimity.
When Annie can’t take the disturbances in their home any longer, Peter takes her back to London. In one of the most interesting scenes in A Year in Provence, viewers can feel the Mayles’ unexpected displacement in their idealized but now former home. After escaping an overly crowded and loud party with old friends, the couple realizes that they no longer “belong”–prompting a speedy retreat back to their true home in France.
Your Comments and Travel Experiences
Did any of the characters in A Year in Provence make you laugh, and, if so, why? Did the party scene remind you of idealizing a place only to realize that you actually felt more at home somewhere else?
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