October 30, 1981 | 75 minutes
“Mrs. Reinhardt” is based on one of Edna O’Brien’s short stories by the same name and was one of two productions that Helen did for the BBC in 1981, alongside “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”. According to Mirren, the wonderful thing about “Mrs. Reinhardt” was meeting Brad Davis, who played the mysterious American and who would become a close friend when Helen moved to Los Angeles a couple of years later. “He was very inspiring and a great guy to be around.” Much of the production was filmed in Brittany, and the travelogue aspects of “Mrs. Reinhardt” are first-rate. The film received mixed reviews upon its television broadcast. The New York Times wrote, “The ingredients are quite promising. The result, however, is only disconcerting, if not downright irritating. Miss Mirren has been seen here before in the television productions of Harold Pinter’s ”The Collection” and in ”The Shakespeare Plays” production of ”As You Like It.” She is an accomplished actress and manages to get through Mrs. Reinhardt’s soul-searching voice-overs with an impressive residue of conviction.”
“Mrs. Reinhardt” essentially tells the story of a woman who has been hurt, finds a glimmer of hope, and then is hurt yet again. It’s a familiar story that many people would undoubtedly be able to relate to, but it’s presented in an unbelievable manner. I found it to be an odd experience to watch, sometimes unnerving but strangely entertaining. The story starts slow and mysterious and introduces the most beautiful part of the film, Brittany’s astonishing landscape, changing from a lavish nature to a barren seaside. But this doesn’t help not noticing the sometimes choppy editing and acting of the teleplay. While Helen Mirren is once again enjoyable in the part, other parts are played unconvicingly and sometimes laughably. The film switches endlessly between flashbacks and the Brad Davis lovestory, which gets very passionate and then very violent (although, the way it has been filmed, very laughable as well). By that time the story has lost its grip and you don’t really care why Mrs. Reinhardt is in Brittany by herself or what horrible tragedy made her leave. I haven’t read the original story, so I can’t say if the television adaptation could have been any better, or made its possible best out of the material, but with a bit more pace, this would have been more enjoyable. Recommended though for a nice performance by Mirren and wonderful Brittany countryside.