The Ghost of Greville Lodge (2000)
The Ghost of Greville's Past
"The Ghost of Greville Lodge" is one of those movies which start so awkwardly that you think it's going nowhere other than being a cliche. I say cliche because we have a lot of cliche elements, the old lodge with locked doors and what appears to be another world which appears at night when the clocks stop at 2. But stick with it because this awkward and uneasy drama grows into something which is not only better than you expect into something which is also truly memorable. There are still issues such as some acting but the strength of the writing makes up for these issues which in the end don't distract from a good Christmas Ghost story.
As long as James (Jon Newman) can remember he has lived in care homes so suddenly when he gets invited to stay at Greville Lodge by a Great Uncle (George Cole - Take Me High) he has never heard off it comes as a bit of a surprise. And so is living at the old lodge because not only is his Great Uncle and his house keeper Sarah (Prunella Scales) very old fashioned but he discovers that the place has many secrets hidden behind locked doors which reveal themselves to him in the dead of night.
I won't lie; when "The Ghost of Greville Lodge" started I thought this movie which previously I had never heard of was going to be poor. It felt awkward, uneasy and very clunky as we go from James's first hours at the lodge, to a flashback to him learning of his Great Uncle at the care home and then to his first strange night time vision. Basically it feels very messy and although I am sure it was intentional as director Niall Johnson tries to get across the awkwardness of young James living with his very old Great Uncle and Sarah it is off putting.
But then in a clunky way it gets good and to explain means I have to issue a spoiler alert because the following night James suddenly finds himself transported to the run up to Christmas 1939, 60 years earlier. He witnesses himself in the grandeur of the lodge where there were many staff and he was secretly friends with gardener Ben and his sister Midge. Like the intro to the movie this journey back in time initially feels clunky but it grows into a great mystery as James tries to make sense of why he is seeing into the past and what happened 60 years ago to both the people and the building. And it is the solid writing which makes this mystery so good building to a wonderful and powerful crescendo as everything comes out in to the open.
Now like with the way the movie grows from being clunky to something special so does the acting especially from Jon Newman who stars as James Greville. In those early scenes where he is delivering the awkwardness of a young man thrown into a world of tradition it feels too awkward and uncomfortable but the minute things takes James back to 1939 Newman's performance comes good and is actually quite captivating. The rest of the cast deliver more level performances with both George Cole and Prunella Scales delivering the solid and assured performance of veteran actors.
What this all boils down to is that whilst "The Ghost of Greville Lodge" starts rather slow and uneasily it evolves into something surprisingly good. The mystery of the storyline is what ends up captivating and it builds to an impressive crescendo which considering how slowly the movie started is surprising.
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