Keeley Fawcett and Jack Stanley in Carrie's War (2004)

Memories are Made of This

With the blitz going on Carrie Willow (Keeley Fawcett) and little brother Nick (Jack Stanley) find themselves put on board a train with lots of other children being evacuated from the dangers of London to the relative safety of Wales. But leaving home is tough especially when having arrived in Wales Carrie and Nick have to sit in a large hall with all the other children waiting and hoping someone will come along who wants to take them in. Fortunately Louisa Evans (Lesley Sharp), aka 'Aunty Lou' takes pity on them and takes them back to where she lives with her brother, Mr Evans (Alun Armstrong) the shopkeeper. Mr. Evans is devoutly religious and demanding and not averse to dishing out punishment. They also get to meet Mr Evans' other sister who lives at Druids Bottom with housekeeper Hepzibah Green (Pauline Quirke) handicapped cousin Mister Johnny (Jamie Beddard) and evacuee Albert Sandwich (Eddie Cooper).

Yet again I find myself torn by a movie and can't decide whether I am more than just charmed by "Carrie's War". The reason I say this is because there is a lot which is right about this BBC production; good casting, good sets and a lot of nostalgic charm but at the same time it feels like a meandering ramble through some one's war time memories with no actual storyline just memories of the past. Maybe for those who went through the experience of evacuation during WWII will find this enough to connect to but for younger audiences the lack of purpose, of identifiable destination is a stumbling block.

Lesley Sharp in Carrie's War (2004)

Now I said that "Carrie's War" feels like someone's war time memories and that comes across through the opening narration from Carrie as if she is looking through her diary she wrote as a child. It also has that episodic style as we see various events from arriving in Wales and being marshalled into the town hall where children are picked by adults through to Christmas in the valleys. Now there is nothing wrong with this as such other than only making "Carrie's War" feel like little more that a collection of wartime memories which are touching, comical and eye opening. But it does feel aimless as if there is no ending on the cards and at some point it is likely to just end.

Despite this "Carrie's War" is charming and that starts with great casting, I am not on about the likes of Alun Armstrong, Pauline Quirke and Lesley Sharp who all deliver solid performances but Keeley Fawcett. Fawcett is normal, she isn't ugly or unrealistically pretty she is just normal and normal is good. Fawcett can also act and she brings so much depth and wisdom to the role of Carrie, making her an old head on young shoulders.

What this all boils down to is that "Carrie's War" is a beautiful movie, a charming recollection of a child's war time experience as an evacuee sent to live in Wales. It features a fabulous performance from Keeley Fawcett but it does feel like a movie with no story, just a recollection, a memoir which unfortunately needs some sort of narrative to work.