A Private Function

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  • R
  • 1984
  • 1 hr 34 min
  • 6.5  (3,063)

A Private Function is a British comedy film set in post-World War II England, directed by Malcolm Mowbray and released in 1984. The movie stars Michael Palin, Maggie Smith, and Denholm Elliott. The movie is set in 1947, just as a new post-war Labour government comes to power, rationing is still in place in England, and everyone is keen on obtaining more meat. The story follows a couple of characters, Gilbert Chilvers (Michael Palin) and Joyce Chilvers (Maggie Smith) as they plan to steal a pig to feed their local community. Unfortunately for them, the pig belongs to a local politician, Dr. Charles Swaby (Denholm Elliott), who has been keeping it as a personal pet.

The story begins when Gilbert Chilvers, a chiropodist, and his wife Joyce, a housewife, hear about the arrival of a pig in their town. They learn that Dr. Swaby, a prominent town member, has acquired the pig and is keeping it as a private pet for his own benefit. Gilbert and Joyce decide to steal the pig to feed their community, who have been suffering from rationing and shortages for a long time.

They receive help from another village couple, Frank Lockwood (Richard Griffiths) and his wife, who are planning a lavish banquet to celebrate the upcoming wedding of their daughter. In their view, eating some pork at the banquet from a stolen pig is justified, as it could provide a much-needed form of entertainment for their peers.

However, while the couple devises an elaborate scheme to steal the pig, the authorities find out, and before they realize it, they become embroiled in an intricate web of government intrigue, spies, and a squadron of military police led by the rugged Sergeant Morris Wormold (Bill Paterson) charged with patrolling the local villages in search of black-market activities.

A Private Function is a humorous satire on post-war British society, its class struggles, and the effects of the rationing that persisted in the UK after the war. The film's humor is mostly dry, with dialogue that is consistently witty, and its narrative relies heavily on the eccentricities of British society. The main characters are portrayed as flawed, relatable people, who find themselves in situations where they are forced to break the rules only to find that there is a heavy price to pay for their actions.

The acting performances in A Private Function are excellent, with Michael Palin delivering a standout performance as the nervous and bumbling Gilbert. Maggie Smith shines as a tough and steely Joyce, who takes charge of the pig-stealing operation. Denholm Elliott gives a superb performance as Dr. Charles Swaby, the uptight local politician, and Richard Griffiths is excellent as Frank Lockwood, the thoughtful, and somewhat scheming father-of-the-bride.

The movie's central theme revolves around British class politics and the struggles of the poor to get by as wealthier members of society enjoy the spoils of their fortunes. The film interweaves themes of political conspiracy with the daily struggles of the average Englishman, with the comic relief of the pig-stealing plot culminating in a brilliant scene at the film's climax that ties everything together.

Overall, A Private Function is a well-crafted, intelligently written, and beautifully executed farce that is both tightly-plotted and character-driven. It's a movie that's both heartwarming and humorous, with an undercurrent of satire that speaks to the class struggles that still pervade British society. If you're looking for something witty, entertaining and charming, A Private Function is a must-watch.

A Private Function
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  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 34 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    6.5  (3,063)