Anne Lister (Maxine Peake) is a wealthy woman in 19th century Yorkshire who also happens to be a lesbian. She’s very much in love with Mariana (Anna Madeley) who returns her affection. Much to Anne’s surprise though, she discovers that Mariana is to be married to the older Charles Lawton (Michael Culkin). Anne is not willing to compromise, contrary to Mariana which causes a rift between the two of them.
The Secret Diaries if Miss Anne Lister tells an interesting story and provides a fascinating look at the life of lesbians at the time. The perfomances are wonderful and the script has a good sense of humor. Very entertaining.
It must be fascinating to read Lister’s actual diaries. And not only because of her open homosexuality and the insight it gives into the lives of lesbians at the time. She is generally a fascinating person and led a very interesting life. [Judging from the film that is. I had actually never heard of Lister before it, so I don’t know much.]
Maxine Peake is a wonderful center of the film and turns in a great performance. But I also loved Anna Madeley, Susan Lynch and Christine Bottomley.
Generally the movie is to be commended for its topic and the fact that there are so many strong female characters in it alone. But it’s not only the politics behind it that make it so enjoyable. Jane English’s script is very nice, with a good deal of witty jokes and good character development.
At some points it’s rather noticeable that the movie’s budget is not the biggest. While that is not disturbing per se, it would have been nice to have.
Summarising: The movie is kind of marketed as a lesbian Austen story – and that’s a very apt description. If that sounds good to you, go for it.