Gideon [1999]

Everyone believes that Gideon Warner (Bill Nighy, Love Actually), a hugely influential publicist, has the key to making everything happen. But Warner can't make his daughter (Emily Blunt, Empire) love him, and her thinly hidden disgust is slowly killing him. British tv-movie auteur Stephen Poliakoff doesn't just write about people; in his view you can't separate one life from the lives of others, or the events of the world in which that life is lived. Gideon's Daughter unfolds organically in a series of disconnected events, chance collisions and coincidental intentions that shape the character's fates. In the wrong hands, this could feel sloppy or forced; but Poliakoff has a gift for keeping his audience caught up in the struggles of his unpredictable (yet very believable) characters. The juxtaposition of events large and small--a man steals flowers from a memorial for Princess Diana so he can lay them on the sidewalk where a car struck his bike-riding son--reflects how a life as supposedly large as Gideon's can become enmeshed in one so supposedly small as that of a grief-stricken middle-aged salesclerk (Miranda Richardson, The Phantom of the Opera). Extras include interviews with Poliakoff and the cast, as well as a 40 minute documentary on Poliakoff, A Brief History of Now, which may help explain why this intriguing writer/director is so well-regarded in England, though he's little-known in the U.S.. --Bret Fetzer

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