What's so funny about world poverty?

The new film Girl in the Caf


Marco Visscher | December 2005 issue

When the world’s first romantic comedy about combatting poverty appears on DVD and the screenplay was written by Richard Curtis, it’s a must-see. Not only is Curtis guaranteed to keep you entertained (among other masterpieces, he wrote Four Weddings and a Funeral and Notting Hill as well as the TV series Blackadder and Mr. Bean), he was also the co-initiator of the Live 8 benefit concert and the humanitarian UK campaign Make Poverty History. It is not an exaggeration to say that Curtis played an important role in the proposals to end extreme poverty that leading political leaders agreed to during last summer’s G8 summit in Scotland. And it is a similar political summit that forms the backdrop of The Girl in the Café, a TV movie that aired this year in England, the United States, South Africa and other countries, just before the actual G8 gathering last July.

Lawrence (played by Bill Nighy, who appeared in the film Love Actually, which Curtis also wrote) is a hopelessly shy civil servant working for the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He falls in love with Gina (Kelly Macdonald), a young woman of the silent type he happens to meet in a café. In the bungling style with which Hugh Grant excelled in earlier Curtis films, Lawrence asks her to go with him to Iceland, where he is part of the British delegation that will negotiate the final terms of the Millennium Goals during a G8 summit (including cutting extreme poverty in half, educating all children and reducing child mortality). Gina accepts his invitation and proceeds to create a ruckus at the hotel when she urges heads of state to get their priorities straight. When the German minister of Finance tells Gina she needs to understand that even in the event of a watered-down compromise, hundreds of thousands of people will still be saved, she answers: “I can see that, it’s just, you know…tough, for those on the wrong side of the line.”

Inevitably, political concerns weigh heavily on this improbable love affair. The facts of poverty, after all, aren’t romantic or funny. Every day, 30,000 children die from its effects. The subsidy money spent on a single European cow could send a whole lot of African children to school. You don’t often see those facts whirling around in the dialogue of a popular movie. But the way they are presented in The Girl in the Café once again confirms Curtis’ reputation as a subtle master of comedy. And that’s the strength of this wonderful movie. Curtis’ contagious belief in the power of drama to communicate a political messages pays off here.

The Girl in the Café is available on DVD in your video store or through Amazon.com.

Solution News Source

What's so funny about world poverty?

The new film Girl in the Caf


Marco Visscher | December 2005 issue

When the world’s first romantic comedy about combatting poverty appears on DVD and the screenplay was written by Richard Curtis, it’s a must-see. Not only is Curtis guaranteed to keep you entertained (among other masterpieces, he wrote Four Weddings and a Funeral and Notting Hill as well as the TV series Blackadder and Mr. Bean), he was also the co-initiator of the Live 8 benefit concert and the humanitarian UK campaign Make Poverty History. It is not an exaggeration to say that Curtis played an important role in the proposals to end extreme poverty that leading political leaders agreed to during last summer’s G8 summit in Scotland. And it is a similar political summit that forms the backdrop of The Girl in the Café, a TV movie that aired this year in England, the United States, South Africa and other countries, just before the actual G8 gathering last July.

Lawrence (played by Bill Nighy, who appeared in the film Love Actually, which Curtis also wrote) is a hopelessly shy civil servant working for the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He falls in love with Gina (Kelly Macdonald), a young woman of the silent type he happens to meet in a café. In the bungling style with which Hugh Grant excelled in earlier Curtis films, Lawrence asks her to go with him to Iceland, where he is part of the British delegation that will negotiate the final terms of the Millennium Goals during a G8 summit (including cutting extreme poverty in half, educating all children and reducing child mortality). Gina accepts his invitation and proceeds to create a ruckus at the hotel when she urges heads of state to get their priorities straight. When the German minister of Finance tells Gina she needs to understand that even in the event of a watered-down compromise, hundreds of thousands of people will still be saved, she answers: “I can see that, it’s just, you know…tough, for those on the wrong side of the line.”

Inevitably, political concerns weigh heavily on this improbable love affair. The facts of poverty, after all, aren’t romantic or funny. Every day, 30,000 children die from its effects. The subsidy money spent on a single European cow could send a whole lot of African children to school. You don’t often see those facts whirling around in the dialogue of a popular movie. But the way they are presented in The Girl in the Café once again confirms Curtis’ reputation as a subtle master of comedy. And that’s the strength of this wonderful movie. Curtis’ contagious belief in the power of drama to communicate a political messages pays off here.

The Girl in the Café is available on DVD in your video store or through Amazon.com.

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