Another Country [1984]

An indictment of the British class system dressed up like a Ralph Lauren ad, Another Country is the movie that made a very young and very gorgeous Rupert Everett a star. Whatever other ideas it has knocking around its head (and there are quite a lot of them), director Marek Kanievska's adaptation of Julian Mitchell's play is first and foremost a star vehicle for Everett, who played the openly gay main character with a vigor, flair, and smoldering appeal that was rarely seen onscreen in the early '80s. Everett is Guy Bennett, a charming, confident schoolboy in 1930s England who yearns to climb to the top of the social strata at his Eton-like school. His ambitions, however, are waylaid by the young and equally gorgeous James Harcourt (Cary Elwes), with whom he begins a passionate yet secret affair. Soon, however, Guy finds that balancing his love and his ambition is a no-win situation, and that no matter how hard he bucks against it, the ages-old traditional structures of British class and etiquette won't yield in his wake. Added to all this E.M. Forster-style drama and romance is the fact that Guy later on becomes a spy for the Russians against England; it's a weighty theme to drop on the movie, and the fact that it's a true story just shows how less than artfully the film unfolds. Still, holding it all together is the sublime Everett, who took this persona of the classy, beautiful, passionate, British gay man and ran with it throughout the '80s and '90s. With Colin Firth as Everett's Marxist (and heterosexual) compatriot. --Mark Englehart

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