Attention Seeking and Attention Grabbing
Lynda Mansell (Emily Lloyd) was born different, her first word was bum and since then has been swearing like a trooper, provoking those whose middle class sensibilities are horrified by her use of bad language. But ever since her mum died 5 years ago Lynda's behaviour has got progressively worse as she rides up and down the promenade, flashing her legs as if she was Betty Grable and attracting attention through her exhibitionist tendencies. But it brings her to the attention of Eric (Tom Bell) a friend of her father's who takes advantage of Lynda's need for affection and attention and who ends up getting her pregnant, leaving her with a choice over what to do next as her father disowns her.
I didn't see "Wish You Were Here" for the first time until the late 90s and whilst the performance of Emily Lloyd blew me away the actual movie left me under whelmed. It's not that I didn't get, here we have a British coming of age movie set in a post war seaside resort where Lynda rebelled against the system, what was expected of her for what ever reason and then after having a lot of fun has to do some growing up. But other than Emily Lloyd's performance which was a breath of fresh air the rest of "Wish You Were Here" was frankly ordinary and in a way harked back to the kitchen sink dramas of the 50s and 60s.
Now what that means is that for me the first half of "Wish You Were Here" is where it is at its best because it features Emily Lloyd as the vibrant Lynda who having struggled since her mum died leaving her with her straight laced father who doesn't know what affection mean seeks connection through attention. The whole first half to me is all about that, all about Lynda firstly trying to feel love by flirting and sleeping with men who might give her what her father doesnt whilst also intentionally causing trouble with her attitude in order to get her father to try and show some real affection for her. Yes basically half a movie which is a scream for help and it is fantastic because of Emily Lloyd who is stunning as Lynda bringing lots of fun to the character with her colourful language yet at the same time showing the depth of feeling as to why she behaves so badly.
But this then takes a dramatic turn when she ends up succumbing to Eric, the friend of her father who works in the local cinema and lives in a dirty room above it. When he ends up getting Lynda up the duff it brings everything to a head for her as she is disowned by her father, expected to get rid of the child and a whole lot else. I won't tell you what happens but "Wish You Were Here" changes tone and once again Lloyd is the star as she brings to life the conflict of Lynda over being who she is and who others expect her to be.
The trouble is that whilst I could ramble on for ever about Emily Lloyd as Lynda the rest of "Wish You Were Here" did little to set my world on fire even though the supporting performances from the likes of Tom Bell are in fact very good. And I think the reason is a case of extremes because Lynda is such an outrageous character the contrast with the respectable, stiff father is too large to be believable. That is the other thing as "Wish You Were Here" seems unsure whether it wants to be realistic or over the top amusing and so leaves you unsure.
What this all boils down to is that "Wish You Were Here" is certainly entertaining but it isn't the fantastic movie I had hoped it to be. Instead it is a case of a fantastic debut from Emily Lloyd which in many ways was too good because nothing could live up to this performance.