Plenty Going On
Susan Traherne (Meryl Streep - Out of Africa) was just one of many British women who were sent to Europe during WWII to work with the resistance. It is during her time in France that she meets Lazar (Sam Neill) a British agent who parachutes in and they end up having one night of passion. After the war has finished Susan returns to England to begin a new life with a determination to have what ever she sets her mind to and that includes marrying Raymond (Charles Dance) a diplomat. But life after war in Britain lacks the excitement which life helping the resistance had and Susan finds herself not even living and taking out her boredom on others especially Raymond who she enjoys antagonising.
"Plenty" is about this, no it is about that, no you are both wrong it is about this. That was the conversation I over heard between a group of movie friends discussing the 1985 movie "Plenty" starring Meryl Streep. Now at that point I had never watched this movie and couldn't join in but was made curious to know more of this movie which seems to have many interpretations and having finally watched it can see how people could interpret it in different ways from the simplistic view of life being dull after war to it being symbolic of a nation.
Now I am a simple chap, I tend to take movies on face value rather than trying to seek some hidden meaning or sub context to things so my take on "Plenty" is that of a simple one. As such what we have is the story of a woman whose life was exciting during the war working with the resistance but could not find anything to replace that excitement once the war is over leading to depression, mood swings and an antagonistic side as she played up to humiliate her husband who tries to be patient with her.
We also see how her behaviour especially towards Raymond may also have sprung from that one night of passion she shared with Lazar. Nothing compares to that night thanks to a combination of the man and the danger of the situation and so being with Raymond is only ever a disappointment. As I said my interpretation of "Plenty" is at the simplest level but it works as do those who look for a deeper sub context.
Now "Plenty" stars Meryl Streep whose star was on the rise when she made this and this is one of her quieter more subtle performances with lots of little details which make the character interesting rather than anything big. An example of which is a scene where she is happy to listen to the gruesome description of embalming, leading you to think that the gruesomeness of what happens delivering some sort of excitement lacking from day to day life.
What this all boils down to is that "Plenty" is an interesting movie with good performances and is the sort of movie which is open to interpretation. But it won't be for everyone as it does require thinking about it and requires you to pay attention to the way people act to one another.