Sep 11, 200602:10 PMThe Life
Sep 11, 2006 - 02:10 PMDuring the recent Emmy ceremony, one of my favorite films, "The Girl In The Café," took home three awards: Outstanding Made for Television Movie, Outstanding Writing for a Miniseries, Movie or a Dramatic Special (Richard Curtis) and Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie (Kelly Macdonald). Why did this little-seen TV movie impress voters in these major categories? I suspect the passionate dialogue (sample below) was a deciding factor in all three awards.
Scripted by the writer of "Four Weddings and a Funeral", "Notting Hill" and "Love Actually", this offbeat political-romance concerns Lawrence (Bill Nighy, "Love Actually"), a 57-year-old Londoner with a successful governmental career and nonexistent social life. One day he stops in a café and meets the mysterious, considerably younger Gina (Kelly Macdonald, "Trainspotting"). To their mutual amazement, they hit it off and agree to meet again (and yet again). Then he invites her to accompany him to the G8 Summit in Reykjavík, where she upends his carefully ordered world in ways both wonderful and terrible...
INTERIOR - FORMAL DINING HALL AT THE G8 SUMMIT
BRITISH PRIME MINISTER (Corin Redgrave): Five years ago, the world made a series of the most magnificent promises, and we have determined to use this conference seriously, to indent the most extreme curses of poverty in the world today. We shall not let them out of our sights... even if we may not yet have the power to fulfill them all. [Dinner guests applaud.]
GINA: That's not true. That's not true. [Guests gasp.]
PRIME MINISTER: I'm sorry madam, but heckling isn't really a tradition at these gatherings. [Guests chuckle.]
GINA: What are the traditions, then? Well-crafted compromise and just sort of ignoring the poor?
PRIME MINISTER: Perhaps we can talk about this later?
GINA: [Quietly intense.] I doubt it. I imagine I'll be thrown out later, so it's probably got to be now. I don't know how much the rest of you ladies know about what's going on, but my friend here tells me that while we are eating, 100 million children are nearly starving. There's just millions of kids who'd kill for the amount of food that fat old me left on the side of my plate. Children who are then so weak, they'll die if a mosquito bites them. And so they do die... one every three seconds. [Snaps fingers.] There they go. [Snaps again.] And another one. Anyone who has kids knows that every mother and father in Africa must love their children as much as they do. And to watch your kids die... to watch them die... and then to die yourself in trying to protect them... that's not right. And tomorrow, eight of the men sitting round this table actually have the ability to sort this out by making a few great decisions. And if they don't... someday, someone else will. And they'll look back on us lot and say: "People were actually dying in their millions unnecessarily... in front of you, on your TV screens. What were you thinking? You knew what to do to stop it happening and you didn't do those things. Shame on you." So that's what you have to do tomorrow. Be great, instead of being ashamed. It can't be impossible. It must be possible. [Guard arrives, to remove Gina from the hall.]
Note: Richard Curtis was a founder of both Comic Relief and Make Poverty History. He organized the Live 8 concerts with Bob Geldof, and has helped raise hundreds of millions of dollars for charitable causes. "The Girl In The Café" also won a Humanitas Prize earlier this summer.