You know that song Georgy Girl?
Well, there’s a whole movie that goes with it. Yeah, I never did either.
Georgy Girl takes place in 1966 London, which means it’s all mod and swinging and really cool. This is the era that birthed the Beatles. Everyone is gorgeous and wears really cool, stylish clothes. Except for Georgy. Georgy is a music teacher and hopeless old maid, as she is not yet married or in the family way at the age of 24. We’ll just giggle about that for a minute. Georgy, in addition to being a hopeless old maid, is also hopelessly unfashionable. Instead of sleek mini-skirts, she’s all baggy sweaters, make-up free and pony tails. In other words, the way I look most of the time. Georgy lives at the home of the very rich old creeper for whom her father has worked since she was a child.
Georgy’s best friend and main foil is Meredith, who is everything that Georgy is not and everything that Edina Monsoon wishes she’d been in the 60’s. She’s got the look and the hair, and the clothes. Meredith, played by the gorgeous Charlotte Rampling, is a professional cellist and, let me sugarcoat this to soften the blow, she’s an awful, terrible despicable person who treats everyone, especially Georgy like their dog poop stuck to their shoe. Rampling also plays her as having a mean case of Bitchy Resting Face.
For all the Ugly Duckling talk that there is about Georgy, it should still be said that she’s played by a Redgrave. Georgy isn’t ugly; we’re just conditioned to think of her that way because that’s what the filmmakers wanted. Georgy is unfashionable and a little socially awkward, but not unattractive and she is not overweight. In one of the only scenes where she’s wearing a form-fitting dress, you can see that she’s not close to being overweight.
Supposedly, Lynn Redgrave said some fairly nasty things about her body from this stage of her film roles. I’m here to say Lynn, you were not overweight, and even if you were, you did not deserve to feel about yourself the way you did.
Eventually, Meredith becomes pregnant by her boyfriend Jos, for whom Georgy also has feelings. Because Meredith would be a terrible, awful, horrible mother and is mostly upset that her butt is getting bigger, Georgy and Jos make plans to raise the baby in the sort of Hillary Clinton Village thing that would have gone over well in the late 60’s. Meredith has the baby and, because she doesn’t care about anything other than herself, can’t be bothered to care for the child and decides to give her up for adoption, which is actually the kindest thing she’s ever done. Georgy and Jos begin a de facto romance and live together as a family with newborn Sara. Even though Georgy finally has the attention of a man, she only has eyes for the baby girl. Jos is ambivalent.
There’s another subplot here that meets up with the baby plot toward the end of the movie. The rich old creeper, played by James Mason, had offered Georgy a lucrative position as his mistress. Georgy was obviously insulted by the offer. She wants someone to love her, and she wants that person to be Jos, or at least not someone old enough to be her grandfather. But by the end of the movie, Creeper’s wife has died, and Creeper is able to upgrade his offer for Georgy from mistress to wife. Georgy accepts, as this arrangement will allow her to drop the pretense of romance with Jos and keep Sara. Sara gets one stable loving, parent, and one parent with pockets deep enough to fund years of therapy. Jos doesn’t have to give up his freedom in swinging London. Meredith’s butt goes back to its normal size. Creeper gets to get it on with a much younger woman. So everyone wins. There’s a perfunctory wedding and the new family rides away into the sunset while the groovy theme music swells.
Ultimately, Georgy Girl is about self-discovery and the search for fulfillment, which Georgy achieves. It’s actually a fun movie, and was probably very heartwarming for its day, but this is the part that actually made me want to start this blog. This movie made me say out loud “They wouldn’t end it like this today.” In the end, Georgy arranges to adopt Meredith’s baby girl, and marry the rich creeper. Her dreams of being a mother come true, so we’re supposed to think this is great. I just don’t think that in 2013, we would consider marrying a creepy guy you don’t love to be a triumphant ending. I would see it going one of two ways. If today’s Georgy Girl were an indie film, the title character would probably be played by Ellen Page or Zooey Deschanel, and she would use her spunky attitude to support herself and her daughter. If it had a bigger budget, she’d have a rich, handsome love interest played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt or James Franco who would confess his love, adopt the baby as his own and they wouldn’t have a care in the world. Either way, she wouldn’t marry someone she doesn’t love.
But then that got me wondering if the 1966 ending isn’t the more realistic, even though it’s the less ideal one in modern times. We give a lot of lip service to marrying for love, but there are still many ill-advised unions that people either enter or stay in because the people involved feel it’s best for the children. Is the less than ideal ending the more realistic one?