(1985, US/GB, 105 min) Dir Alastair Hirst. Cast Jessica Lange, Julian Sands, Denholm Elliott, Hugh Grant.
Jessica Lange is the young American widow Ms Allison Fairley, the kind of person who one finds depicted in films as a ‘live wire’ or a ‘free spirit’ but that you, in real life, wouldn’t wish to be trapped in an elevator with. Since she has a lot of money from her late husband’s estate and a lot of free time Ms Fairley has decided to travel to Edwardian England to indulge herself in her latest hobby – the digging up of dinosaur bones. The reason she has her eye on England of all places is because of Sir Evelyn Pearson (Sands), the internationally acknowledged expert on all things paleontological. Of course he wants to have nothing to do with this forthright and crude American but she’s not easily put off – even if it means turning up at every one of Pearson’s digs she’ll get her man in the end. In the end, of course, she does but that’s not really a spoiler, is it? Produced by the estimable Merchant Ivory team though written and directed by TV veteran Alastair Hirst, this slight film seems at times to be trying a little too hard to out-Merchant Ivory the duo themselves. A young Hugh Grant adds value as Pearson’s flabbergasted student who is alternately appalled and besotted by the manic Fairley.