2005 - United Kingdom / United States - 94 minutes
Writer - Richard Curtis
Director - David Yates
Internet Movie Database User Rating - 7.6/10 - Link to IMDB
My Rating - 5 of 5 Stars

This little gem of a movie is a good example of the value of cable networks such as HBO in providing superior entertainment that would never, ever be produced by the huge studios. These films are not just television dramas. They are high-quality motion pictures in every sense of the word.

There is a charming, albeit unbelievable, story behind this film. Bill Nighy plays a painfully shy financial advisor to a high-ranking British diplomat who is involved in the preparation for the latest G8 Summit to take place in Iceland. Nighy's character, Lawrence, shares a table with a somewhat enigmatic young woman, Gina, in a café. He is immediately fascinated by her appearance and overcomes his shyness by striking up a conversation. Gina is no conversationalist, but Lawrence continues to be enthralled.

Going against what we can assume is his usual behavior with the opposite sex, Lawrence calls Gina and begins a continuing friendship. This leads to his invitation to accompany him to the summit.

Gina is a "fish out of water" amongst the diplomats and their spouses. She is not socially inept, but she states her opinions - most of which are contrary to the political machinations of the participants at the summit. What could be worse in a group of diplomats as a person who actually speaks bare-faced truths? This, of course, leads to conflict for Lawrence - he agrees with Gina but is obligated to support his superiors.

Scottish actor, Kelly Macdonald gives a beautifully restrained performance as Gina. Even at the end of the film, you are not sure you fully understand this young woman. This, of course, is an element of the script, but Macdonald makes you believe that it would take a long while to come to a full understanding of Gina and her background.

Lawrence is highly intelligent and possesses a wry sense of humor, but it is almost painful to witness his insecurity. Bill Nighy is dead-on in his personification of this complex character. Nighy's body is tall and thin with bones that seem to be very loosely connected. He uses his physicality to advantage in his portrayal of Lawrence. Some of his best acting in the film is in the scenes in which we watch the movements of this man who is so insecure and shy. Nighy often has Lawrence move in an almost contorted fashion to emphasize his insecurity.

The Girl in the Café is a quiet, entertaining pleasure and one that is surely worthy of an hour and a half or anyone's time.

Neil Turner
July 14, 2006

The Girl in the Café