The Shell Seekers (1989) - full transcript

Given an opportunity to trade her most cherished possession for comfort an security, Penelope must take a good look at her future. With three grown children and a lifetime of memories, she realizes that something is missing, the simple joy she knew as a child playing on the beach. So she embarks on an incredible journey-50 years into her past-to discover the secret to happiness for her friends, her family...and herself

(gentle music)

(wheezy breathing)

- You shouldn't go home.

You're a sick woman.

- I don't feel sick.

I just feel tired.

- Mrs. Keeling, you had a heart attack.

- I had a hiccup.

- You need to rest.

- I've rested enough.

- We will not accept responsibility

for anything that happens to you.

- Look, I don't expect you to.

It's my life, and I'll do what I please.

(gentle music)

(birds chirping)

Here we are.

This way.

Would you mind puttingthe suitcase down there?

- I shall. - Thank you.


- I'll just put these on the table, shall I ma'am?

- Yes, that will be fine.

Would you like a cup of tea?

I bought biscuits, actually, I like to make my own,

but that'll be for tomorrow.

- No, thanks.

Nothing else I can do?

- No, thank you.

I'll be fine now.

You've done enough already.

There we are.

Thank you very much.

- Thank you, ma'am.

- Can you find your way out? - Yes, certainly, ma'am.

(classical music)

(birds chirping)

(Penelope gasps)(gentle music)

- Mother!

What in heaven's name is going on?

- Hello, Nancy.

- I've just spoken to Dr. Maurice.

He says you've discharged yourself!

- No.

I escaped on a rope of sheets.

- Honestly, mother.

You can't leave hospitalwithout telling us.

- Well, why not?

- You're a sick woman.

- But I feel fine.

- Not according to Dr. Maurice.

Please, Mother, go back.

- Look, I'm sorry, but you're gonna have to

carry me out of here feet-first.

(Dolly sighs)

- Mother, you've reached an age and a state of health

that emands care.

Now if you won't return to hospital,

you've no choice but to move in with us.

- Nonsense, I'm staying here.

- Have some consideration for others.

I worry about you.

I can't come over here every day

just to see if you're alive.

- Would you like some lunch?

- George and I love you.

I'm not talking aboutstaying with us forever.

Just for a few weeks till you get your strength.

I won't be able to sleep at night knowing you're alone.

It's my birthday at the weekend.

George thought we might have a party.

Mother, please, won't you come stay with us?

I've asked Noel down.

He is anxious to see you.

Perhaps we'll even hear from Olivia.

Mother, please.

It's doctor's orders, not only mine.

Do it for me.

- All right.

And thank you for tending the house while I was away.

♪ Happy birthday to you ♪

♪ Happy birthday dear Nancy ♪

♪ Happy birthday to you ♪

(family clapping)

(family laughing)

- Did you make a wish?

- Oh, no, I forgot.

- I did.

- It's not your birthday, stupid.

- [Man] Melanie.

- I wish you'd turn into a big fat pig.

- Rupert.

- They're only teasing, Grandmama.

- Your great-grandmotherhas come a long way

to be with us tonight, Melanie.

Show her what a nice young lady you are.

- I hear you dischargedyourself from hospital,

Mrs. Keeling, just like that.

- Just like that. (chuckles)

- Did you pull out tubes and things?

- Oh, no.

Is that what Noel told you?

- I thought you'd be impressed, Ma.

- Melanie, tell me, did you like

the new riding habit I had made for you?

- Yes, Great-grandmama.

- And it fits you well?- Yes, thank you.

- You do spoil her, Grandmama.

- Noel tells me your father wasLawrence Stern, the painter.

- Well, yes.

- I think my grandfather hadone of his paintings somewhere.

- Really?

- Rupert, did you enjoy the Treasure Island I sent on?

It was your granddaddy's copy, you know, when he was a boy.

- Yes, I got it.


- I think we've got it somewhere in the country.

- I met your grandfatherWhen he first entered

the house of lords, my dear.

He was a charming man.

A bit old-fashioned in his tastes.

I can't believe he approves of your dressing like that.

Oh, don't worry.

I think it's delightful, really.

You know, I do so like your new girlfriend, Noel.

She's much nicer than the last one.

I so approve of young people these days, for the most part.

- Cake, Grandmama?

Mother baked it herself,one of Sophie's recipes.

I tried to stop her, but she insisted.

- Oh, I loved it.

It was so good to be back in the kitchen again.

- No, thank you.

Your mother's pastries were always

too French for me, my dear.

I wish I'd known my daughter-in-law would be here, Nancy.

Penelope and I haven't seen each other since forever.

- No, darling.

Not quite forever.

- Your coming was such a surprise, Grandmama.

Why didn't you telephone me and tell me you were coming?

- It's your birthday.

I wanted it to be a surprise.

I made Noel promise not to tell.

It's a shame about you're being so ill, Penelope.

For a time, I thought we'd lost you.

- Oh, Dolly, it isn't that serious.

- It was kind ofNancy and George

to take you under their wing, wasn't it?

- We try keeping her off her feet, but she won't listen.

- Given your condition, Iwould've thought the best thing

would be for you to taketo your bed permanently.

- Oh, no, Dolly.

I'm feeling fine, thank you.

In fact, I was telling Nancy, I think that

my constitution is almost as tough as yours.

Coffee, everybody?

- I'll do that.

- I insist, Nancy.

- Did you see inthe times today,

one of your grandfather's paintings is up for sale?

- Really?

Does Ma know?

- Yes.

I can't imagine they'llget much for it.

Lawrence Stern's beenout of vogue for years.

Whenever one of his paintings comes on the market nowadays,

it's greeted with roundsof critical sneers

and sell for tuppence,it's quite embarrassing.

- Noel, I don't like you talking

about Grandfather's work like that.

I remember him.

You never knew him.

- Does your mother have much of his work?

- No, two unfinished panels.

Truly hideous, oops.

Sorry, Nancy.

- And his last one, "The Shell Seekers."

It's lovely.

- Well, it's not bad.

'Tis a bit old-fashioned, you must admit.

She only keeps it because it's of her and Sophie.

Her mother.

She died in Cornwall during the war.

- Oh, I'm sorry.

- Yes.

Ma never quite got over that.

- We used to spend the summer in Cornwall.

It's lovely there.

- Yes, Mother used to spend the summer there too,

when she was young.

And she lived there during the war.

I was born there.

- Yes, Ma's forever talking about it.

In fact, she told me this evening she means to go back.

- There you are.

Would you like a hand?

- Oh, no thank you.

I'm rather enjoying straightening up after a big party.

Sort of puts life in order.

Are you going to drive back tonight?

- Yes, Dolly insists.

Oh, what a difficult woman.

How do you put up with her?

- She's my mother-in-law.

One learns. (chuckles)

- What was he like, your husband?

- Ambrose?

Oh, very charming.

Very handsome.

Dolly absolutely adored him.

I don't think she's everforgiven me for taking him away.

Noel's a little bitlike Ambrose, actually.

He could charm you into anything.

Nancy takes after Dolly.

Family first.

She knows her own mind.

I think it's Olivia, really, who takes after me.

I'll be back in a minute.

- You refuse to be concerned, don't you?

I mean, consider the possibilities.

- What possibilities?

- She can barely manage the expenses of the house now.

What if something else were to happen to her?

- She could live to be 90.

- And where does that leave George and me?

We've got this house tokeep up, two children

to put through school, and now an invalid mother

to take care of, withoutany help from Olivia.

- [Noel] You choose to live in this barn of a house

and wheel your children off to expensive schools.

- Hello?

Yes, I will.

Hello, Olivia!

Yes, well Nancy did write to you when it first...

Well how could we?

You've no phone.

No, she's discharged herself.

She's staying here.

Well, the doctors.

Yes, all right.

- Oh, thank you.



Oh, it's so good to hear your voice.

- She reversed the charges, of course.

- No, I'm fine now, really.

There's no need to come.

- Let's not make it long, Penelope.

Calls from that part of the world can be very expensive.

- No, please, don't come.

No, I'm really fine now.

I just need some quiet.

Well, it's difficult to get in a hospital.

Or anywhere, for that matter.

(knocking on door)


- Thank you for the cake.

It was lovely.

- Not at all.

- I'm sorry about this evening.

Dolly was as much of a surpriseto me as she was to you.

- Well, it's over.

- How's Olivia?

- Basking on the beach, I suppose.

She wants me to visit.

- [Nancy] Naturally, you said no.

You're not well enough to travel.

- I'm going, Nancy.

- Mother, no.

I want you here.

- I overheard your argument with Noel.

I'm not an invalid.

I'm 63.

And I have survived, If I'm to believe that idiot doctor,

a heart attack.

Yes, but I can stilltouch, see, hear, smell.

I can look after myselfand discharge myself

from the hospital, and if I so desire,

I can go and visit Olivia.

I'm searching for something, my darling.

I don't know what it is, but I do know that it isn't here.

I appreciate your concern.

But I'll be fine.

(solemn music)

(people chattering)

- Mama!


- Oh, darling.

I can't believe I'm really here.

You look wonderful, my love.

You look so well.

- Did you manage the flight?

- Oh, yes, it was lovely.

- You look wonderful, too.

- Oh, I look terrible, but I look better than I did before.

I'm just not at my best.

- [Olivia] There's someone I want you to meet.

- [Penelope] Uh-huh.

- Mama, this is Cosmo.

- Oh.

- How do you do, Mrs. Keeling?

- Hello. - Penelope.

- Penelope.

Welcome to Ibiza.

- Oh, thank you.

(light music)

- All those years I was absolutely chained to London,

I couldn't imagine living like this.

But there is quite a little British community here.

You'll meet them all.

Cosmo's been here, what, 15 years?

- Mm-hmm.

- Fell in love with the place.

- First sight.

Here we are.

- [Olivia] Cosmo rents the house from a man in town.

- Yes, all the conveniences.

But the plumbing's a biterratic, so just keep flushing.

(Penelope chuckles)

- He grows his own vegetables.

- And I've got a vineyard, animals.

- He's an absolute wonder.

- She never tells me that.

(women laughing)

- Isn't it beautiful?

- Oh, it's lovely.

It's years since I've seen the sea.

- [Cosmo] Antonia!

- Hello!

- My daughter.

She simply lives in the water.

I think she has gills.

(all three chuckling)

Have some more wine.

- Oh, yes, please.

It's delicious.

- He makes it himself.

- Really?

- God makes it.

I merely supervise.

(Penelope chuckles)

- Excuse me.

- Look at those figs.

- That's a lovely dress.

- Thank you.

Rose Pilkington broughtit back from Morocco.

I hope it's not too special.

- This is a special occasion.

May I?

- Oh, of course.

- Would you care for one?

- No, thank you.

(Olivia laughing)

- Cosmo used to be a50-cigarette a day man.

- Mm-hmm.

I worked in a Londonbank for over 20 years,

and one day the old heart said, "enough."

And I came here to recover.

Brought Antonia with me.

And we've simply never left.

- I used to wonder he didn't get bored.

Oh, I've got a thousand things to do.

The boat, the house, the vineyard.

Shelves full of books.

Six goats, three dozen chickens, minus one.

Heart attack was the bestthing that ever happened to me.


No, second best.

- I thought he was a dreary sailor when I first met him.

He was running his boat, showing pale British tourists

around the island.

Then he showed me around the island,

and I changed my view entirely.

(both chuckling)

(speaking foreign language)

Of course, he's a bit older than I am,

but Lawrence was older than Sophie,

you've always said they were happy.

- Oh, 30 years older.

- Yes, I know.

It must have been a remarkable marriage.

- Oh, it was.

You're happy, too, then?

- Oh, yes, Mama.

I do miss London sometimes.

I miss my work.

But we can't have everything, can we?

- Oh, look at those.

- Now, would you like me to buy you one?

- Oh, I'd love one, just like that.

(speaking foreign language)

(bell tolling)

(dogs barking) (people chattering)

You know, I love the sound of bells.

I was never very religious, but as the years go on,

I do love the bells.

- Come on, they're waiting for us at the dock.

- All right.

Here we go.

All right, I'll wait foeyou in the boathouse.

- Okay.

- Hi!

I'll see you tomorrow.

- [Penelope] You look asif you had a good time.

- Oh, yes.

I could've stayed all afternoon.

Look what I made.

- Oh, I used to collect shells like that when I was a child.

"Our souls' abandoned holes," my mother used to call them.

I thought we could shrink in size like Alice

and slip back into them again.

- I know what you mean.

I feel as if I were born in those waves.

I used to dream I had afish's tail sometimes.

Isn't that silly?

- No, not a bit.

I longed for one.

Mermaids must feel sofree, I always thought.

You know, like flying underwater. (chuckles)

That's what the sea reminds me of.

Some special sort of happiness.

My parents had it.


(solemn music)

Looking at Cosmo andOlivia, I think of them.

She's lovely.

- I worry about her, though.

- Well, all good parents worry about their children.

- So do the bad ones.

- You've managed to raise her very well.

- Oh, I spoil her.

She forgives my faults, you see,

whereas my ex-wife couldn't.

It's been very difficult for Antonia.

Her parents being apart.

She only sees her mother once a year.

- Yes, well, divorce isvery hard on everyone.

- That's why I'm so glad that Olivia's here with us.

Antonia needs a woman's influence.

- Uh-huh. - Well, so do I, of course.

(both laugh)

And I'm glad you're here, too.

- Oh, so am I.

Oh, you know, it wasn't until I felt this lovely warm sand

between my toes thatit all came back to me.

I love the sea.

- Stay, then.

- Oh, I can't.

I'm absolutely determined this year to make my garden

into something special.

I only hope I can still do the work.

- Why not hire someone?

- Well, I'm not sure that I could manage the expense.

- Olivia says you werealways splendid at that.

Bringing up three children almost single-handed,

taking in boarders, soup alwayssimmering in the kitchen,

constant visitors.

- It wasn't all like that.

- Well, that's what she remembers.

You know how little girls alwaysdream of fairy tale princes

whacking their way through the thorns to rescue them?

Little boys dream, too.

But they're brave sailors, you see.

They dream of the siren who will someday

trap them and tame them.

This particular sailor has been caught

in your daughter's net.

And you know something?

I rather like it.

(Penelope laughs)

- Dad?- Hello?

- [Antonia] Emily's gotplenty of milk today.

- Good, see if you can get her

to feed those two little ones, eh?

- [Antonia] Well, thebig one's getting more.

- Well, I'll come and give you a hand

when I've got enough lemons.

What is it, my darling, what's wrong?

(Antonia and Cosmo chattering)

They want you for managing editor.

And Cosmo won't leave the island.

- Never.

- Does he know about this?

- No.

- Don't you think you should--

- Mama, this is the first time in my life

I haven't been working.

I think some part of me needs to work.

- But I thought that you were happy here.

- Yes.

But not complete.

- You may not be complete without him.

- I need to prove to myself that I can handle this job.

I've worked for it all these years.

- Sounds as if you've made your decision.

- I want you to talk me out of it.

- Oh, no my darling, I can't do that.

I want the best for my children, yes, but--

- Love isn't always thebest, though, is it?

You loved Daddy, look how that turned out.

You loved your children,and look at us now.

Nancy trapped in that miserable marriage.

Noel climbing social ladders Without a thought for anyone.

Mama, if I turn this down, I may grow to resent Cosmo.

- And if you love him and leave,

you may have nothing but regrets.

You ask my permission tobe happy, you have it.

You ask my advice, I have none to give.

You must talk to Cosmo, not to me.

(bell tolling)

- You all right?

- Oh yes, I'm just a bit tired.

- Not far to go, Mama.

- Shall we have some ice cream?

- Yes.

- Oh, none for me, thanks.

- All right, come on, you.

- Why don't we just sit down over here for a few minutes?

- Listen, Mama, we couldgo back if you want to.

- Oh, of course not.

Come along, sit down.


(children chattering)

They were Sophie's.

Lawrence's gift to her, instead of an engagement ring.

I've been meaning for you to have them.

I tried to think whatmy mother would've done.

- Mama, I can't.

- Take them.

And know that whatever you decide,

no matter how difficult it is, it'll be the right thing.

- Oh, Mama.

(gentle music)

- If I ask you to marryme, will you stay then?

- Darling, please understand.

- I can't continue without you.

- No, don't say that.

It's not forever.

I'll be back for weekends and holidays.

- I need you here.

- Cosmo, please...

Don't make it so difficult.

- That's my job.

(both laugh)

(birds chirping)

(gentle music)

- Oh, Mr. Plackett.

- Oh, hello, Mrs. Keeling.

- Hello. - I hear you've been ill.

- Oh, I'm very much better, thank you.

I'm looking for a gardener.

- Mr. Plackett.

- Be right with you.

Dotty old bird.

- I need someone part-time, really, on a regular basis.

- What sort of work?

- Oh, everything, weeding, replanting,

clearing out, all that sort of thing.

- Talk to him, then.


(horn honking)

Danus Muirfield.

- Oh, Penelope Keeling.

- Sorry.

- Oh, that's all right.

- [Woman] Mr. Plackett!

- Coming.

(gentle music)

- Is it good?

- Yes.

Like home.

- And where is home? - Edinburgh.

- Oh.

How did you end up down here?

- I was in university up there.

- Well, what were you studying?

- I was going to be a lawyer.

Didn't like it.

Prefer this.

- But why here, so far from home?

(horn honking)

oh, there's someone here.

Hello, Nancy.

How nice to see you.

- Hello, Mother.

You look well.

- Well, Ibiza worked wonders, everyone's envious.

How are the children?

- Oh, fine.

- And George?

What is it?

- Have you seen this?

- Oh my goodness.

200,000 pounds.

I can't believe it.

- Suddenly everyone likes them.

You've got a fortune hanging in your house,

Mother, and we didn't know.

- Oh dear, yes, well, that's very nice, isn't it?

- George thinks you ought to sell.

And if you don't, he says they must be insured.

And that costs a fortune.

You can't afford it.

So George thinks--

- Surely I must have a say in this.

- Yes, of course.

But the point is, they're much too valuable anymore to keep.

So George thought that you might like--

- The paintings are mine.

I must decide what I'm going to do with them.

- I'm all set.

I'll see you Thursday.

- Thank you, Danus.

- Who's that?

- My new gardener.

- How can you afford him, mother?


Now please, you've got to listen to reason.

- Nancy, I'd rather notdiscuss this just now.

- Just sell the panels, then.

You can keep "The Shell Seekers."

- Six weeks ago, youcouldn't have cared less

what happened to them.

- Yes, but things have changed, Mother.

You're a wealthy woman now, on canvas.

All right, if you sell the paintings,

you can have a gardener,a housekeeper, a nurse.

But you can't do anything untilyou've sold the paintings.

- 200,000 pounds is more than enough for a gardener--

Yes, and the money you give away when you're alive

is worth twice what you give away dead.

- Meaning I should give it to you.

- [Nancy] Better us thanthe government, yes.

- And what would you do with it?

- Well, the children's school fees are due.

Melanie needs new clothes, and George's club fees are late.

And I've--

- George put you up to this, didn't he?

Well, I'm not paying George's club fees,

and I'm not sending your children

to those expensive boarding schools.

If you'd been a little less ambitious for yourselves

and spent a little more time teaching your children

simple manners, perhaps they'd been

a little more happy today.

- Mother, be fair.

You show more interestin your wretched garden

than you do in me.

- If it's money you need, go to Dolly.

She's been more than generous so far.

She bought you all the clothes you wanted,

gave you horses, big coming-out parties,

the big white wedding you said you needed.


I couldn't afford those things.

I tried to help you then, but you said

that you didn't need my help.

If you need help now--

- When did you ever help me, Mother?

It was always Dolly who was around for me, never you.

- You can't believe that.

- It's true.

I thought I was unwanteduntil Noel was born.

Then I saw you neglected him as much as you did me.

- I didn't neglect you.

- Olivia was the only one of us you ever really cared for.

- That's simply not true.

- I wanted that love, but it was never there for me.

Was it?

Was it?

- Nancy.


- [Woman On Intercom] Phone on two, Miss Keeling.

- I'll call them back.

- [Woman On Intercom] It's a young lady.

- Oh, just take a number, will you?

- [Woman On Intercom] Long distance from Ibiza.

She says it's urgent.

(phone ringing)

- Yes?

- [Olivia] Mother, it's me.

- I'll have to call you back, my darling.

- No, wait.

It's Cosmo.

He's had another heart attack.


He's dead.

(dramatic music)

(rain pattering)

(thunder rumbling)

- Oh, dear.

Come in.

Come in.

- And what did you do then?

Oh, Lord, well, why did you tell her that?

Because it's a really stupid thing to say.

You have to learn to keep your mouth shut.


Na, oh.

- Now what's happened?

- Ma won't sell the paintings.

- Why should she?

Can't say I blame her.

Look what I found in the cupboard.

Where'd you get it?

- It was Grandfather's.

I nicked it from Mother's when she sold the London house.

- Oh, it's wonderful.

Oh, I couldn't keep it, could I?

- No you cannot.

Only for tonight.

(doorbell rings)

- Ah, right, come on, that's my driver, we better go.

- Hello Olivia, it's Noel.

Call me when you get in, please.

- Oh, what's this?

- What?

- Hole in the pocket.

Perhaps something's fallen downinto the lining.

Some money.

- I doubt it.

Not in our family.

- Ah, here we go, a piece of paper.

Maybe it's a fiver.

Oh, no, a letter.

Lawrence Stern.

- Give it to me.

- The house wasn't ours.

If you hadn't offered, I wouldn't have any place to go.

But I won't stay long.

- You will stay as long as you like.

My children have been screamingat me for living alone.

They'll be very pleased.

And I love your company.

- I never knew anyone who died before.

I loved him so much.

(solemn music)

- Time passes.

You'll come to terms.

(knocking on door)

She'll sleep now.

You've been very good to her, Olivia.

- Oh, Mama.

(Olivia crying)

- No regrets, my darling.

No regrets.

- This time, I think you're going too far, Noel.

- Oh, come on, Nancy.

- No.

- (sighs) Well, you can't expect me to do it alone.

- Well, what are we supposed to do if you find them?

- They may not exist at all.

Just because the letter said so.

We've got to get them first, then we can decide what to do.

We don't know how many thereare, what their value might be.

Of course, if they bring in a great deal,

we'll share it with her.

- I don't think it's fair.

- Nor is she.

Honest, Ma.

I'm worried.

I mean, the papers are full of it.

Elderly people living alone, horrible things happening.

Only last week, I read of two fires near Sirencester

in places just like this.

- Well, I don't smoke.

Oh, Antonia, this is my son Noel.

Antonia is staying with me for a while.

- Yes, Olivia said.

Oh, I'm sorry about your father.

- Thank you.

- Anyway, one of the fires started in the woman's attic.

Two much clutter, old wiring.

You really ought to clean yours out.

- I don't have time.

Danus is in the garden.

Why don't you go and introduce yourself?

- Why don't I doit myself, then?

I've got the whole weekend.

I promise not to throw anythingaway without your approval.

I just don't want you going up in flames, Ma, that's all.

- Hello.

I'm Antonia.

And I'll wager anythingyou're Danus Muirfield.

Would you like a biscuit?

- No, thanks.

- It's a perfect name,for a gardener, I mean.

Some people have names that are exactly right

for who they are.

Don't you agree?

Charles de Gaulle, the savior of France,

Benito Mussolini, a big brute of a name.

My father's name wasCosmo, man of the world.

It was nice meeting you.

- When I was a boy, we had a rector in our church

called Mr. Paternoster.


- Oh, remember Bear?

Couldn't go to sleep without him.

Oh, what a dreadful mess this all is.

Goodness gracious.

Oh, look.

Well, you never were a champion speller.

My goodness.

Oh, here are your letters from Eton.

My, but you were so homesick.

I remember your first letter.

You'd only been gone two days.

I was so upset, I almost went and brought you back home.

- Don't, Ma.

It's in the past, please.

There's no sensein keeping them.

- Noel.

- Go through those other boxes.

See if there's anything you want.

The rest we can cart away or burn.

These can start the fire.

- How could anyone do this?

Destroy such memories?

I could never burn mine.

Could you yours?

- I wouldn't know.

- Some of these things,we'll have to drive them

to the dump, I suppose.

- You'll have to, not me.

- What?

- I don't drive.


- I had to do this withmy father's things.

Throw them away.

It's difficult, just tossing them out.

Things that mean nothing to you,

meant a great deal to someone else.


(solemn music)

- I want you to meet a new friend of mine.

Richard, this is my daughter, Penelope.

- How do you do?

- Richard's training for the front.

He also plays chess.

- I've wondered what you Americans do here

for entertainment.

(Richard chuckles)

- Who's this?

- Nancy.

Say hello, darling.

- Hello, Nancy.

- Penelope's husband is missing in action.

- Oh, I'm sorry.

- Dodging German tanks, I imagine.

- Yes, I'll be doing that myself soon.

Could I take a picture of you, Nancy?

- No.

- [Richard] Do you mind?

- All right.

You know, you needn't beas wary of German tanks

as you should beof British cars.

- I beg your pardon?

- I saw you last week nearly knocked off your feet.

(Richard laughing)

(camera clicks)

- [Nancy] Hello, Mother.

- Nancy.

I was just looking at anold photograph of you.


- No.

It was such a long time ago.

Olivia says her friend's daughter is living here with you.

- Yes, Antonia.

So you needn't worry.

And Noel's here.

- Yes, I know.

He told me he wanted toclear out your attic.

Is he upstairs?

- Yes.


Would you like to go back to Cornwall with me?

I know it's all changed and I shan't know anybody,

but I'd love to take you back.

I'd love to share some memories.

- I'm sorry, Mother, I can't.

I can't leave the children.

And I've got so many things to do around the house.

And George is helpless when I'm not there.

Perhaps later on, when things are slower?

I'll be upstairs if you need me.

Did you find them?

- Oh, hello.

So you decided to come after all.

- Most likely she threw them away.

- She never threw away anything in her life.

I know, it's all up here.

Look at this.

She even saved your baby clothes.

No, he must have sold them.

- Sold what?

What are you looking for?

- Memories.

- Don't lie to me, Noel.

- Ma, it's nothing in particular--

- Don't lie to me.

- Show her the letter.

- It's from one of grandfather's clients,

about a sketch for the Tratso garden.

Well, he most likely made sketches of all his paintings.

They'd be worth a small fortune if they still exist.

- And what were you going to do with them if they did,

sneak them out behind my back?

- Of course not, Ma.

You've got to sell.

The money you give away while you're alive is worth twice--

- Yes, yes, I know.

But why?

How much do you need?

- Just a share of it.

I mean, you've got three children.

You could unload a certain amount.

Obviously keep a bit for yourself.

- And what would you do with it?

- Ah.

Commodity broking.

Well, I need a bigger flat for that.

One that I can work from.

And then there are certain circles I have to break into.

I'd have to entertain--

- So I'm expected to sell mypaintings for your advancement?

- Ma.

- I can't believe what I'm hearing.

I could be talking to your father instead of you.

- Please.

- You don't give a hoot about me, do you?

About my house, my father's paintings.

They're all that Ihave left of him, Noel.

- Lawrence is dead and we are not.

We are your children.

You owe an obligation to help.

- [Penelope] I don't owe you anything.

- Well to love us, then.

- Mother, we only want you to make the right decision,

for yourself.

- You want me to dowhat you want me to do.

Well, I'll sell thepaintings when I choose.

- [Noel] Just the sketches, then.

Have you seen them?

Ma, did Lawrence sell them?

- Thank you forclearing out the attic.

- [Nancy] You really went too far this time, Noel.

- Oh, don't make me feel like a criminal.

You're as bad as she is.

- What?! - I need the money.

So do you.

- [Nancy] Yes, but that's no excuse

for sneaking behind her back.

- [Noel] Oh, stop being so noble.

At the end of the day, itcomes down to cold cash, right?

She has it, we need it!

- [Nancy] But there's such a thing as subtlety.

- [Noel] Choose a side, Nancy.

Stop sitting on the ruddy fence!

(solemn music)

- Hello.

I have an appointment with Mr. Brookning.

Penelope Keeling?

- Yes, he's expecting you.

- Penelope.

- Oh, Roy, how are you?

- It's been a long time.

- Well, I've been rather reclusive in the country.

- I was a student of her father's

when I first met this woman, Miss Lieman.

My libido was in its prime, and I hadn't

the least idea what todo with it. (chuckling)

Let me take this. - Thank you.

- And how are the children?

I haven't seen them in years.

- Oh, they're doing quite well.

And so are you, Roy.

- Well, Lawrence always said I'd make

a better dealer than a painter.

As usual, he was right.

(Roy chuckles)

Sophie? - Mm-hmm.

The last he did of her before she died.

He could never bring himself to put it on canvas.

- Where did these come from?

- Well, I've had them for years.

They were hidden in theback of my wardrobe.

I'd quite forgotten that I had them.

- Hidden?

- Well, I didn't want Ambrose to find them.

I mean his gambling got so bad,

he was selling everything that he could lay his hands on.

- I have no idea what you saw in that man.

You were mother andfather to your children.

Admit it.

- Yes, well, we all managed somehow.

Now what do you think that I could get for these?

- 5,000, apiece.

- How soon?

- Six months.

We'll auction them in New York.

- Ah.

Roy, I need some money now.

I'm going to make a journey.

I'm going back.

I don't know why, but I simply must.

- How much do you need?

- Thousand or so.

- I wish I could talk you out of selling.

They'll be worth more in a year.

- No, I've made up my mind.

Thank you.

- Are most men like you, Danus?

- What's that supposed to mean?

- Hard-working, quiet, so single-minded.

- Some.

Most are better.

- You see, you're the first manI've really spent time with,

other than my father, I mean.

Are your parents still alive?

- Yes.

- Don't you get on?

- Average, I suppose.

- Why don't you drive?

Was it an accident or something?

- And most girls, do they ask as many

personal questions as you do?

- Some.

Most ask more.

- I never learned to drive.

No reason in particular.

(phone ringing)

- [Penelope] Olivia?

- Mama.

- Hello, my dear.

How are you?

I finished my meeting with Roy Brookning.

You know, insurance onthe paintings and such.

And so I thought I'd comealong, but if you're too busy--

- No, no, no.

Come in, please.

- Roy sent his love to you, incidentally.

- [Olivia] Oh, yes.

How is he?

- As always, a dear friend.

- Would you like some tea?

I'll finish this presently and then we can go out to lunch.

- No tea, thanks.

Isn't this an interesting office?

- Yes, it's a mess at the moment,

but we're approaching deadline.

(both chuckling)

You all right?

- Yes.

I'm fine.

- And Antonia, she's happy?

- Yes, I think she is.

She spends a lot of time in the garden.

- Didn't know she liked gardening.

- Well, she doesn't really,but she does like the gardener.

(both laugh)

Olivia, I wanted to ask you a favor.

- Anything, Mama.

- I'm going to Cornwall.

Cohn cottage, Papa's studio, all of it.

Could you get away and come with me?

- When?

- [Penelope] Well, right away.

- Oh Mama, no, I couldn't.

The issue is due by the 15th.

I'd be in trouble if I--

- Yes, yes, of course.

I just thought perhaps you--

- I could come in the autumn.

- No, I want to go now.

Well, perhaps Noel could go with me.

If he drove, I'd be there in three quarters of an hour.

(Penelope chuckles)

- Mama, I'm sorry.

- Don't be.

No regrets.


(knocking on door)


- Hello, Penelope.

- Dolly.

What are you doing here?

Where's Noel?

- He's picking up the car at the garage.

I'm taking him out to an early dinner.

What are you doing here?

He didn't inviteyou too, did he?

Your children keep inviting both of us

to the same functions.

- No, I just happened to be in town and I--

- He called me here fora financial discussion.

He says you refuse to sell the paintings.


I only hope you know what you're doing.

- Dolly, I'm not hereto discuss my finances.

- You've never discussed them with me in your life.

But it's none of my affair.

It's just that I feelI'm continually expected

to bail Nancy and Noel out of their financial difficulties

whenever their mother--

- You're not expected todo anything of the sort.

- Well, somebody has to.

They're helpless, my dear.

- [Penelope] They're perfectly capable

of looking after their own finances.

- Penelope.

I cast no aspersions.

I'm simply saying that in their upbringing

you never taught them discipline and responsibility.

If it hadn't been for me--

- Dolly, that's enough,I simply can't sit here

and listen to this.

What I thought was important is what I was brought up with.

That is what I gave my children.

Not money, love.

I loved them.

I still do.

- Oh really, Penelope!

You were always themost irresponsible woman

I have ever known, for heaven's sake.

You didn't even come to your own husband's funeral.

- Oh, that's past history.

I'm not interested--

- No, it's not past.

It's never past.

Look at your children.

If they're unhappy it's becauseof the selfish bohemian way

you raised them.- Dolly!

- Not to mention the thoughtless way

you treated their father.

I never thought you worthy of Ambrose,

and you proved me right, didn't you?

- I loved him.

- You scarcely knew him.

- That was the war, Dolly, not me.

We met in the war, we married in the war.

That was Ambrose missing in France,

me living alone allthose years in Cornwall.

And after the war, after he came back,

it was you neverleaving us alone

that led to his debts and his drunkenness.

- It was your indifference made him that way.

- No, it was your constant interference.

I simply put up with what you had created.

Dolly, I tried to be friends with you.

After Sophie died, I needed a mother.

But you never approved of me--

- Why should I approve of you?

Ambrose was meant for better than you.

He might as well have thrown his future

in the river as marry you.

- It was his choice to marry me.

- And as for his poor children--

- You stole his children away from me

the moment that you had the chance.

Showering them with gifts, that's your sort of love.

- [Dolly] I never gave them any of my--

- [Penelope] If my children are poor, it's only because

of the empty money you used to win them over.

- [Dolly] Penelope.

- It's a wonder you haven't learned from the mess

you made of their father.

- Why didn't you stop it, then?

- Because my childrenare not my possessions.

They must do what they want, see whom they want to see,

make their own mistakes.

- And they've made plenty, haven't they?

That's not mothering.

That's neglect.

It's more of your bohemian independence.

- I never neglected them!

- Yes, you did.

Your own parents'reckless way of living,

that's what makes you so irresponsible.

- My parents loved me, and I won't listen to you say

another word against them.

- That's what droveAmbrose away, you know.

- Is that what you think?

Didn't he ever tell you why?

- Oh, my dear, hedidn't need to tell me,

it was perfectly clear.

- It wasn't me, Dolly.

It was Noel.

- Noel?

- I was pregnant withhim, and the last thing

that Ambrose wanted was another child.

So what does he do?

He runs home to Mum, leaving me alone

to do what I've been doing all along,

raising his children without him.

Now, look at the boy.

He's becoming like hisfather, empty, shallow,

wallowing in the same self-centered shallowness

that killed Ambrose.

And that's your doing, not mine.

But love can't hold out against the likes of you.

(door closes)

(Penelope gasps)


(solemn music)


(door closes) Oh.

(tense music)

(air raid siren wailing)

(Penelope breathing heavily)

- Are you all right?

- Yes.

Just bad dreams.

- What about?

- My mother, and me.

She had something, some feeling for life.

A gift for mothering.

But she died before she could pass on the secret to me.

I'm 63 years old, Antonia, and my children are grown,

and I'm still searching.

Would you like to come with me to Cornwall?

I've asked the others, and they're all too busy.

- I'd love to.

- Danus, too.

I want you both.

- I'm not sure if he will.

He's so private.

You get so far with him,and it's like a gate

slamming in your face.

- Well, we can ask him.

He can only say no.

- [Danus] I don't drive.

- Penelope and I will do the driving.

- We'd like your company, that's all.

- It's just for the weekend.

We'll be back Monday.

(Danus sighs)

- I'll think about it.

(door closes)

- Why do you have sucha chip on your shoulder

about everything?

Hasn't it occurred to you that she actually

wants you on this trip?

Do it for her.

- You're going, aren't you?

That's enough.

- She asked us both.

(gentle music)

- [Penelope] My goodness.

I know, of course, it's changed a lot,

but in many ways it hasn't.

When looking at it from up here,

it could be half a century ago.

I've come here so often in my dreams,

I can't believe it's real.

The same buildings, the same streets.

Somewhere inside, I still feel like a little girl.

- But this is terribly extravagant.

- Yes, it was meant to be.

(solemn music)

(dog barking)

- Hello.

Lawrence is out for a walk.

I said I'd stay here.

- Where's Nancy?

- Asleep in the cottage.

She's fine, I just looked in on her.

I've got my orders.

- How long?

- Three weeks.

- Where?

- I can't say.

- I hate this war.

I want it to end.

Who would have thoughtit would touch us here?

They said we were sosafe, and then Sophie...

And now you're going, too.

I wish it would leave me something.

Do you hate me for saying that?

- No.

I don't hate you.

(Penelope crying)

(people chattering)

(honk honking)

- I'm sorry.


(gentle music)

Hello, Pen.

- Richard?

- I never dreamed I'd find you here.

- I don't believe it, Isimply don't believe it.

- Me, neither.

But you haven't changed.

- Oh, of course I have.

(both laughing)

And then what did you do after you left the service?

- Well, after the war, I met someone,

went into my father's business, and made a life.

Uneventful sort of stuff.

And you?

Still with your husband?

- No.

- And how about little Nancy?

I bet you're a grandmother by now.

- Twice.

(Richard chuckles)

- Why did you come back, Pen?

- I don't know.

To find something.

Something that I once had.

And since lost.

Something elemental.

Something that I still have, but I can't remember

where I put it.

You know, I'm almost twice as old as Sophie when she died.

I could be her mother now.

Isn't it astonishing?

- Hmm.

- And you?

- I retired.

My son thought it'd be a good idea

for me to have a vacation.

A group of us old soldiers cameback, looking for memories.

But for me, not so much sights, but...

I felt so much here.

I came back to remember the feelings.

- What went wrong, Richard?

What became of my life and the babies that I bore and loved?

I can bear anything for myself,

but to see my childrenso lost is unendurable.

- It's not your fault.

- Isn't it?

I woke up in that hospitalbed , and I thought,

I can't leave them like this.

They're so miserable.

I mean, there were times in my life,

well, with Sophie and with Lawrence and you,

when everything was so bright.

But my children, they have noneof that joy in their lives.

Sophie had it.

And Lawrence, too.

Why is it that I can't pass it on to them?

- Oh, perhaps it's not something you can pass on.

- But why not?

Why is it that all I have to pass on to them are these?

I mean look, look, look at these.

Ambrose and me.

Never really together.

Sophie, gone before her time, leaving my life so empty.

Their lives, empty too.

I was no Sophie to them.

Nothing very precious or valuable here.

I dreamed of the exotic.

And all I'm left withis the common collection

of the seaside tourist, and that

is what I have given my children.

- You could have given them us.

- No.

It was impossible.

- It was your choice, not mine.

- No, it nevercould've been possible.

I only had Nancy then.

Dolly would have taken her away from me.

It was never an option for me to give her up for you.

We met in such difficulttimes, Richard.

The war, deprivation.

Life was a day-to-day circumstance.

We had so little choice.

But my children grew upin relative abundance,

and yet the choices that they've made

have brought them nothing but misery.

I love them so much, and everything

that I have done has been for them.

And yet, now it seems that none of us has anything.

(Penelope crying)

(solemn music)

- [Richard] They're grown now.

Let them go.

- It's not what they want.

- Well, forget what they want.

The greatest gift you couldgive them is your own happiness.

You know something?

Coming back, I've been struck by the peace, and the color.

The gold of the sand, the green grass, the sea's blue.

I feel a bit like Lawrence.

And, you know, what was so remarkable about Lawrence

was that he took responsibilityfor his own life.

He surrounded himself with his colors,

his work, and the people he loved.

He was free, Pen.

Because the choices he made were happy ones for himself.

That was his art.

And I'd forgotten how much I loved you.

- Past tense.

It's all in the past today, Sophie, the war, you.

- But you can't stop us, can you?

We're like the sea.

We just keep roaring on, don't we?

(Penelope sighs)

- Hello, my darling.

Sorry I kept you waiting.

Met a friend.

Did you have a nice day?

- Oh.

We wandered round the village, Danus and I.

It's beautiful here.

- And where is he?

- Sulking.

We had an argument.

He's so sullen.

It's as if he can't love anything.

I told him that caring for him was like

loving a block of ice.

- May I join you?

- Yes.

I used to sit here whenI was a little girl,

counting the boats coming in from a night's work,

wondering which fish from which boat

I was going to have for dinner.

It's hard work, seeing into the future.

What about you?

You know, the gardenthat you've made for me

is blooming so beautifully.

Do you hope to work for yourself someday?

- That's a dream, not a hope.

- Well, what is your dream, then?

I won't tell anyone.

- A garden center, my own, good business, hard work.

- A family?

- I don't think so.

- Why not?

Tell me why not, Danus.

- I have epilepsy.

I've been hospitalized.

My family thinks it's some mental disease.

I take medicine, but it's not a cure.

Can't drive.

I'm still afraid to have children,

although I know it's not inherited.

My greatest fear is to be lost

in the arms of the woman I love when...

My mother's ashamed of me.

My father also.

And in spite of all myscientific understanding of it,

I'm ashamed of it, too.

- Antonia isn't ashamed of it.

She loves you, Danus.

Don't turn away from somebody who loves you

so unconditionally.

Don't deny yourself the possibility of happiness.

You deserve it.

We all do.

- I don't expect you to love me.

I don't expect anyoneto love me knowing this.

I mean, you might say you love me now,

but wait till you see me when it happens.

Do you understand what I'm saying?

I don't know how to love you.

It's been so long.

I don't know how to love anyone.

- Danus.


(gentle music)

- Hello, darling, is it true?

Oh, congratulations.

I can't wait to meet him.

- Where's Ma?

- She'll be down in a minute.

Would you like any tea or coffee or anything?

- No, we'll be fine.

- I'll be off then.

- Hello, Nancy, George.

What's wrong?

You look as though you're at a funeral.

Where's the body?

- There is none.

- What?

- Hello, everyone.

Thank you all for coming.

Hello, George.

- Penelope.

- Where is it, Ma?

- I think you'd better sit down, Noel.

- Did you sell it?

How much did you get?

- No, no, I didn't sell it.

- [Nancy] It hasn't been stolen, has it?

- No.

- [Noel] What then?

- I've given it away.

- Oh, good Lord.

- Mother, how could you!

- You've got to be joking.

- To whom?

- To a gallery in St. Ives.

- And what in heaven's nameinduced you to do such a thing?

Do you know what that picture's worth?

- Well, I know what it's worth to me.

I mean, you've alllived with it for years

and scarcely looked at it.

- You told us you couldn't live without it.

- Yes, and now I want to share it.

- Completely out of her mind.

- You seem to forget, George, that the painting was mine.

I mean, it wasn't yours, it never belonged to you.

- You can't afford it, Mother.

You've little enough as it is.

- I promised the panelsto a private collector

for 300-odd thousand, and the sketches

will go on sale in January.

- The sketches?

You mean you knew about them all along?

Well, I hadn't thought about them for years.

I'd been hiding them from your father.

- And what about us?

What about your family,your grandchildren?

How can you stand thereand happily give away

their inheritance when you know very well

that it's the only thing--

- You can have the money.

I'll take what I need from the panels.

The rest is yours, all three of you.

Divide it as you wish.

- Mother.

- But I don't want to be treated as an invalid anymore.

If I fall down the stairs and land in a heap for weeks,

that's my business, it's not yours.

- We only worry because we love you.

- What I've done you've been urging me to do for months.

So I spent a little money on myself

and returned to Cornwall.

Is that what's bothering you?

I invited you all.

- Oh, good reasons, Mama.

- Excuses.

But I think it's just as well that you didn't come,

because I learned something.

I may not have been the best wife or the best mother,

But I gave you all that I had to give,

and now it's my turn.

To make my own decisions, to live my life as I see fit.

I know all of your virtues and your shortcomings,

and I love you all very much, but I'm not responsible

for you anymore.

Well, I thought we might have some lunch.

- What about the sketches, who gets the money from those?

- I'm giving it to Antonia.

- Oh.

- Mother.

She's not even one of the family.

- Well, she is to me.

And if I can get herand Danus on their feet,

well, that's the very least--

- She wants to squander every penny

on any stray dog that comes along.

- Don't be condescendingto me, George.

For the very first time in my life,

I've experienced thejoy of giving to someone

other than my children, and it's made all the sweeter

because of the grace and gratitude

with which it has been received.

- Oh, and that's whatyou want from us, is it?

Endless thanks.

- I want you to takeyour money and be happy.

I wish the very best for you, Noel.

But what you do with my love is as much up to you

as what you do with my money.

You have so much going for you.

Why do you always want more?

- I only want what I deserve.

- You want what your father wanted.

If I seem wary of you and your schemes,

it's only because I lived through it with him.

- And that's why you dislike me so much.

- I don't dislike you.

I love you.

- You have an odd way of showing it.

I am not my father.

My life has little to do with him or you.

- You always succeeded in making me feel

that I'd failed you.

- I think you have.


Well, I'll see you later, Nancy, George.

Would you like a lift, Olivia?

- No, I'll take the train tomorrow.

- Noel.


- Bye, Ma.

- Nancy, I think we best be going, too.

I think you're foolish, Penelope, to say the least.

- Likewise, George.

- Nancy.

I'll be waiting in the car.

- I think you're terrible.

- No, she's not.

She's generous to a fault, and as far as I'm concerned,

we should be more than content with what she's given us.

- [Nancy] It's easy for you to defend her.

She's always loved you.

- Oh, don't start that again, Nancy.

- She never tries to understand me.

- Perhaps because you never try to understand anyone else.

- She's always had time for you.

She's never given me anything.

- She gave us all a magic childhood

and a terrific start in life.

You can't blame her for your life, Nancy.

That isn't her fault, you did that to yourself.

- Who are you to say that to me?

The beautiful, perfect Olivia.

Perfect life, perfect looks.

You've never had to make adifficult decision in your life.

- You think I'm so different from you?

You think my life's perfect?

You think that I don't want a husband and family too, hmm?

You were the perfect one growing up,

you were the pretty one.

Dolly's favorite.

I had to work for what I have.

So I made different choices than you,

and some of them were right and some were wrong,

but they were my choices, and at least

I don't blame them on my mother!

- Olivia, that's enough.

Nancy's right.

She has good reason for feelingabout me the way she does.

I wasn't the bestmother to you at first.

I was very young, and I tried to cope

in the very best way that I knew how,

but it wasn't enough, and I'm very sorry.

But you know, Nancy, there was a time

when you and I were alone together.

- Never that.

- Remember?

Playing on the sand all day.

Sleeping together at night.

We'd walk out at dusk,and we'd watch the waves

crashing againstthe rocks below.

Your grandfather was there.

And there was another man.

He used to take you down to the sea on his shoulders.

- Daddy?

- No.

His name was Richard.


He used to give you chocolate out of his rations.

- Sand castles.

We used to build sand castles.

- We were very happy together, then.

I let him go.

I gave him up for you because I loved you, my darling.

I still do.

- Nervous?

- Yes.


I don't know.

(both laughing)

- Danus is petrified.

When he saw me this morning, he turned wedding white.

- I'm so happy Georgeagreed to give me away.

- There.

You look beautiful...

Except for one thing.

They belong with a bride.

(gentle music)

I love you, my darling.

My daughter.

(solemn organ music)

("The Wedding March")

- Dearly beloved, we are gathered here in the sight of God

and in the face of this congregation

to join together this man and this woman in holy matrimony,

which is an honorable estate instituted of God himself,

signifying unto us the mystical union

that is between Christ and his church,

which holy estate Christadorned and beautified

with his presence and first miracle

that he wrote in Canaan of Galilee,

and is commended in holy writ to be honorable among all men.

(bells tolling)

- Ma.

(gentle music)

(dramatic music)

(gentle music)