Down on the Farm

Rural rites and upper-class slights in John Schlesinger's Cold Comfort Farm

Only old Ada Doom holds the possibility of being a real rival to Flora, or resisting the girl's efforts at modernization and liberation. They represent different, and irreconcilable, worlds, and their confrontation ought to drive the whole picture. But it doesn't, really, and when they meet near the end, it's a moment of thundering anticlimax.

Schlesinger's Cold Comfort Farm is unlikely to do much for Stella Gibbons' obscurity in this country -- an obscurity that, on this evidence, seems to be entirely earned. It won't do much for Schlesinger's reputation, either. Filming novels is always dicey business; filming bad novels can pay off big, but filming a clumsy satire is reckless -- a blunder easily avoided. Cold comfort for Schlesinger.

Cold Comfort Farm opens Friday, May 24, at the Kabuki, 1881 Post at Fillmore,

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