Academy Award-winner Jim Broadbent stars as Alfred Salteena, ‘an elderly man of 42,’ who falls in love with young Ethel Monticue at first sight. To impress her, he treats Ethel to a visit at the sumptuous country house of Lord Bernard Clark, the only lord Alf actually knows. Their ensuing adventures in London’s colorful high society reveal the young author’s alarmingly keen insights into class, the foolishness of adults and the power that young girls have over men.
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This peculiar and delightful BBC movie springs from an equally peculiar and delightful novel written in 1890 by a 9-year-old girl and published with her spelling left uncorrected–hence the title, The Young Visiters. Mr. Alfred Salteena (Jim Broadbent, Topsy-Turvy) falls in love with an ambitious young beauty named Ethel (Lyndsey Marshal, The Hours), who only agrees to visit the clumsy and unctuous Alfred if he introduces her to nobility. Alfred cajoles an invitation from Lord Bernard Clark (Hugh Laurie, Stuart Little), whose own interest in Ethel leads him to send Alfred off for lessons in manners, launching Alfred on his own road to high status. The story’s mixture of offhand naivete and precocious insights into class results in something daft, funny, and thoroughly charming. Also featuring a delicious turn by Bill Nighy (Love Actually) as the earl who agrees to “rub up” Alfred. –Bret Fetzer
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