The L-Shaped Room, adapted by writer-director Bryan Forbes from Lynne Reid Banks' novel, unfolds in a dank, depressing London boarding house. Leslie Caron plays Jane Fosset, a 27-year-old French woman, down on her luck, who takes a room. There are bugs in her mattress. The taps drip. The landlady ("the lovely Doris") is a drunken, malicious busybody. Forbes doesn't paint the English in a flattering light. They're covetous, eccentric and xenophobic. "I never close my door to the nigs," Doris tells Fosset, as if to prove that she is no racist. When Fosset reveals that... she's pregnant and unmarried, everybody turns against her. The one real friend Fosset makes is Toby (Tom Bell), an impoverished would-be writer who lives in the room downstairs. She starts an affair with him, but for all his protestations to the contrary, he too turns out to be moralistic and conservative--he can't accept the idea that she is having another man's baby.Forbes' dialogue sometimes grates, the film risks running into a dead end (Fosset is stuck with nowhere to go and no prospects), but this is compelling fare all the same. Cameraman Douglas Slocombe (who went on to shoot Raiders of the Lost Ark) makes the boarding house seem as gloomy and oppressive as a Gothic mansion. Forbes doesn't sentimentalise at all. The London he portrays is nothing like the swinging, hedonistic city shown in later British movies of the 60s. --Geoffrey Macnab [show more]
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Bryan Forbes writes and directs this classic British drama adapted from the novel by Lynne Reid Banks. Leslie Caron stars as Jane, a young woman abandoned by the father of her unborn child. She contemplates an abortion after taking refuge in a boarding house full of strange misfits, but after meeting and falling for Toby (Tom Bell), a struggling writer who lives above her, she finally begins to settle into her new place and begins to make friends with her new neighbours.