Age of Consent

Age of Consent (Michael Powell, 1969) wr. Peter Yeldham from book by Norman Lindsay, ed. Anthony Buckley; James Mason, Helen Mirren, Neva Carr-Glynn, Jack MacGowran

Powell found it convenient to leave England after the controversy caused by Peeping Tom (Michael Powell, 1960) – which is still a shocking film. So he went to the Great Barrier Reef for a holiday, taking with him James Mason and Jackie MacGowran, not to mention Helen Mirren, exposed in her first feature. In the circumstances (or so it seems to me) they all had a great holiday, hardly caring at all about the film they were supposed to be there for. There's not a dialogue coach to be found for hundreds of miles: Mason's (Cockney) Aussie accent comes and goes, while MacGowran is literally incomprehensible. And the acting is totally undirected: Neva Carr-Glynn gives the worst caricature of a human being I've ever seen in a film – making the Wicked Witch of the West look like naturalism. The only thing that saves it is Powell channelling Norman Lindsay (who wrote the book). The best scenes are those which simply show (and show simply) Mirren's naked body. She's 24 (thank goodness) but playing 16, and you can believe it: it's a willing suspension.

Age of Consent has dated well: it’s far from the director’s best work but a deeply memorable holiday movie. Luke Buckmaster, Guardian.


Garry Gillard | New: 22 November, 2012 | Now: 26 February, 2017