Summary: As The Television Film Focuses on Only One Particular Instance of Great Importance in Anne’s Life Than the Contents of Her Diaries, Its Should’ve Had A Different Title
Love is all the more precious when the chance of finding a replacement is low; therefore, in the case of same sex relationships, finding and keeping love intact is all the more important because there are fewer chances of getting another suitable substitute, especially if such relationships existed in early nineteenth century. Even in the world today, homosexuals have to take extra precaution while searching for their soul partner, because making a move with the wrong person (a straight person) can ruin well-developed relationships. Movies, television shows, books and experiences have shown that in many cases, it is the relationship between two people of the same sex that is more mature and more intimate in its understanding of the true importance of love.
Anne Lister cherished the love she had for Mariana because she could not find a suitable substitute for Mariana, while Tib could only think of Anne as her suitable partner. Mariana on the other hand had options with her, most probably because she was bisexual. Some reviewers who are calling Anne’s relationship ‘prurient’ only because of the open manner in which she displays her affection towards Mariana (and sexual desires towards other lesbians) forget that she did not have a wide range of options for whom she could display either her love or affection. Anne basically has greater masculine tendencies such as constant craving for love and affection, and does not really care much what the people around her would say when she eyes/stares/holds hands with her object of affection. I’m telling you, had this involved a straight couple, people wouldn’t have labeled the intimate scenes between the couple as ‘prurient’. Yes, Anne didn’t hesitate in openly showing her desperation in holding the relationship together because it would be difficult to part with someone whom she had found presumably after years of fruitless searching.
Maxine Peake does a fine job channeling the essence of Anne’s character, and the job is especially hard because we see Anne for almost the entire time on screen. She makes Anne’s character unique from the other lesbian characters in the movie, which is very crucial for understanding how each character differs in her thinking. While Anne would be the suitable ‘husband’ for Mariana, she would be more of a ‘wife’ had she married an more boisterous Tib; maybe that is the reason why Anne could not see herself with someone like Tib – she wanted to play the man. Mariana had to keep a balance between her masculine ambitions and feminine tenderness, and she does it very well. But it is Susan Lynch who is even more impressive in her short role as Tib, especially in the dinner scene where she starts an inappropriate conversation out of jealousy and dejection. Even Anna Madeley is interesting as the delicate Mariana who while cherishing Anne’s affection, cannot think of sacrificing her position in the society for her. Ann Walker is also good as the shy, suppressed and introverted woman who holds a secret with her.
I have always been quite impressed by the production design in British films – the movies really seem to color and deck their movies very well. The period costumes are fabulous, giving each character a unique personality; even the hats are carefully chosen according to what is most appropriate for a character. The television film should have been named something else, only because we hardly find much time devoted to Anne’s secret diaries leaving out the central theme of the title itself. It could have been named ‘The Forbidden Love of Anne and Mariana’ or something of that sort.