Monk Dawson (1998) Poster


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An interesting showcase for young British talent
carnagecorp-130 June 2007
This Film was being shown in a specialist English speaking video store in the 16th arrondisment of Paris. The clients there are the French version of the Chelsea and Mayfair crowd in London and the films played are aimed accordingly. It caught my eye and i took it out, curious because as someone who casts young actors - I had already seen some extraordinary talent capture the customers of the Prime Time Store. Monk Dawson is no action film, but in almost every other way it is absolutely enticing. The elder performances are somewhat overshadowed by the child actors. Daniel Brocklebank as Monk Dawson is resolutely brilliant, capturing the uncertainties and convictions of teenage faith. His friend Furness, played by Tristan Sherwood-Roberts is the crux of the performances. Too little time was given to this startling screen presence, the highlight of talent on display. Some beautiful actresses - seemingly disappeared now, Paula Yatres, Rhona Mitra (the original model for Lara Croft) gave fun roles. An interesting movie for anyone who cares about life's mysteries, the future of British Acting talent, and enjoying the engrossing and evocative qualities of a great British film experience.
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Good story
zagauk14 August 2011
Gentle story of two friends, over several years, who betray but forgive each other. One, who becomes a Roman Catholic priest, has a teenage crush on the other. The public school solution is to cane it out of him.

The RC priest supposedly loses his faith, but as an older priest says, it is the Church that has lost him because his radical and challenging views upset the hierarchy.

The monastery on an island is a little bleak. I almost expected a butler, bent-double, to appear at the door and say, 'You rang?' I wish they had hired some sort of religious consultant – it was tiresome to see the same green set of vestments worn back to front while the monks wore the wrong combination of tat.

The 'twist' at the end is reminiscent of The Thorn Birds.
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A sort of What Happened After "If"
robinakaaly18 August 2011
Warning: Spoilers
This film is based on the book by the well known Catholic writer, Piers Paul Read. It starts when an old friend visits a monk in his cell on Holy Island (nice shot of a Range Rover driving across the causeway as the tide comes in). We then go back to the mid-sixties when the two arrive at Ampleforth and experience life in one of our great schools. The film does not give such schools a good press. One of the boys becomes a journalist, the other a priest. The latter, anxious to do good in the world, especially among the underprivileged, becomes a teacher at Ampleforth, but not being willing to conform to the mould, is sent to a church in Chelsea, where he meets the local set, which disagrees with him. Not surprisingly, the top people he meets are all revolting. His journalist friend gets him to write articles for The Times, which get him sent to Holy Island to reflect. He leaves the priesthood, returns to London and gets a job with the gutter press. He also discovers sex with one of his more attractive former parishioners. However, she goes off with his friend, so he takes up with the attractive daughter of another of his parishioners. On election night 1979 he is sacked from his paper when he objects to the editing of his articles. He has a one night stand with his former parishioner, then finds that the daughter of the other one, whom he has now married, has died of an overdose. He returns to Holy Island taking a vow of silence. He does not know that his former parishioner is carrying his child, and that it subsequently goes to Ampleforth then on to Oxford to read theology. It was all very well done, with lots of additional detail (and a nice touch of including Mrs Thatcher's victory speech about bringing faith). The problem though was that all the priests from Archbishops down were portrayed as cold, insensitive and lacking in understanding, and that the hero himself was weak and incapable of seeing beyond the end of his nose. Nice steam trains on the NYMR.
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'Mixed' blessings
tim-764-2918561 September 2011
I wouldn't normally watch this sort of film. It was on BBC2 recently and I recorded it. I was vaguely intrigued, though. I've a friend who's catholic, though I'm agnostic, so (in my own belief!) I can judge such topics with impartiality. And, that it had a certificate 18 rating - and was British. I wanted to write a review, as so few had already done so.

British films of this era weren't always bad and sometimes, a snapshot looking back brings back memories; good and bad. On the 18 certificate front and with promises of 'forbidden love' I thought maybe a thread (and becoming a monotonous one) of homosexuality and all the juicy factions that would obviously create.

Its narrative changes an awful lot mainly because it needs to, to stop becoming more boring than it is. It is just about watchable, if on a day when one is not at all discerning. Acting is mechanical, as are the sex scenes and the dialogue is laboured and uninspired. Directing is though its worse scourge, not because it is necessarily bad but so cliché ridden and very very average. Though I don't watch those TV film dramas and the adult romantic novels that get TV serialised by the bucket-load, this (to me) must be what they must be like. The backing music is typically MOR ish and ponderous camera shots slowly arcing round smiling people, un-blinking into the sunset are not what I pay my TV license for.

There could be a story in there, somewhere, if written with more depth and properly characterised. There's more in these 108minutes than many TV drama series and unfortunately, it floats off into forgetfulness. However, as other reviewers have cited, it is always good to see once familiar faces on our screens in a different light. Those watching to check out Martin Kemp and Paula Hamilton and others that they might recognise, won't be disappointed but I wouldn't say it was worth wading through all this for them alone.

In conclusion, I would say that what started off as a well-meant and sombre but 'worthy' script got cold feet and tried to be a film for everyone. Understandably (& perhaps rightly) clerics, romantics and mainstream adult audiences looking for sex and violence just do not mix.
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A noble effort from first time director Tom Waller.
joe-55424 September 2000
A noble effort from first time director Tom Waller. Mixed reviews at the time it was released in Britain, but you can see that this guy shows considerable promise. Glad to see that someone is trying to make films other than Lock Stock! You should check it out for a rare performance by Paula Hamilton (where is she now?), and also Eastenders' Martin Kemp. Tomb Raider girl Rhona Mitra also has a cameo. . .
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An awful film on every level.
j2k_20 August 2011
I cannot state enough how bad this film is. Twee, poorly acted, boring, disjointed. It's an hammy embarrassment of the highest order.

The moral ambiguity teaches nothing, there are no answers and no real questions. I suppose the premise of a monk leaving his order and going out into the world had some potential, but this was entirely wasted.

I honestly see no point in this film. It is a total waste of time, and I strongly advise you not to bother with it.

There is one thing which I was impressed with though, the house master at the school Dawson attended, aged tremendously well. He didn't look a day older over the 40 odd years the film spanned, they couldn't even be bothered with a bit of hair whitening or ageing make-up.
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