Peter’s Friends, directed by and starring Kenneth Branagh and starring Emma Thompson, Rita Rudner, Stephen Fry, Hugh Laurie and Imelda Staunton is the stylish and witty comedy about the reunion of six old university friends who arrange to meet again for the first time in ten years. Neil Norman of the Evening Standard described the film as, “A great British comedy….a triumph…Superb”, while the Sunday Times said, “Intelligent, artful, clever cinema.”
Ten long and eventful years have passed since a close-knit group of six university friends celebrated New Year’s Eve with the farewell performance of their musical comedy revue. Heading off excited and nervous, in separate directions to experience what life has in store, they have encountered inevitable triumph and disaster during the ’80s.
Peter (STEPHEN FRY), now Lord Malton since the death of his father, has frittered away the promise of his youth, seemingly unable to commit himself either professionally or personally. Roger (HUGH LAURIE) and Mary (IMELDA STAUNTON), successful figures in the world of advertising jingles, have been shattered by a family tragedy and consequent feelings of guilt. Maggie (EMMA THOMPSON) has grown even more eccentric, sharing a solitary existence with her beloved cat and living her life through the pages of self-help manuals.
Sarah’s (ALPHONSIA EMMANUEL) tortuous love life has involved a series of married men leading to her latest suitor, Brian (TONY SLATTERY), who is an actor. Andrew (KENNETH BRANAGH) has long since abandoned the ‘great’ play he was writing with Peter in order to seek his fortune in Hollywood. Rescued by Carol (RITA RUDNER) from alcoholism, he has repaid the debt by marrying her and creating “Who’s in the Kitchen?”, a sitcom in which Carol stars. But this spectacular success merely serves to heighten Andrew’s feelings of self-disgust and growing belief that he has sacrificed personal and artistic integrity to the highest bidder.
The friends gather together ten years on for another New Year’s Eve of high comedy and drama at Peter’s country house. Amidst all the seasonal trappings, and with much rousing music from their youth, the friends slip easily back into their old relationships. Despite much laughter there are quarrels and reconciliations, plain-speaking and home truths, shoulders to cry on and hearts to open.
UK / 1993
Director: Kenneth Branagh
Cast: Emma Thompson, Kenneth Branagh, Rita Rudner, Stepehn Fry, Hugh Laurie, Imelda Staunton, Tony Slattery, Richard Briers