84 Charing Cross Road

Director: David Jones
Year Released: 1987
Rating: 1.5

Overly-literary film based on the novel/play about a single Jewish, stereotypically obnoxious New York bibliophile (played by Anne Bancroft) who orders her rare, used, smelly, cheap hardbound treasures from a dingy used book alcove in London run (mostly) by Anthony Hopkins. She keeps planning to fly over to London to see the workers in London who she winds up becoming pen pals with, but never gets a chance to. Time passes, England undergoes some crises (food shortages, death of the Queen) - Bancroft only manages to get there after Hopkins dies of complications from an appendicitis, and the shop is closed and its contents removed. An attempted examination of how others can influence our lives even though we never see or meet them and don't come from the same surroundings, and how this relates to reading novels about the experiences of others and never meeting them (the side plot about actually living versus reading about living, as embodied by a political rally, is so stupid and undeveloped it has no place in here). Neat concept, but it's done all wrong - the film lacks a genuine narrative and any dramatic tension. The result is deadweight: broken, choppy segments that don't cohere or provide much interest. Hopkins plays his role with quiet dignity, as does an underused Judi Dench (who may be our finest living actress); Bancroft's character is Allenesque - she turns to the camera to make confessions and state opinions, which are both unnecessary and annoying (I kept waiting for Mike Myers, as his character Linda Richman, to pop up and mutter, "I'm feeling verklempt!").