Steve Goble

Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

*contains plot spoilers*
"Very beautiful and wonderful things do happen, don't they, and we live most of our lives in the hope of them."

The Mailway Children
Rather enchanting tale of yesteryear, in which three children lose their dad and are forced to move to the countryside and begin a new life.

It's exactly the sort of fare that, as a kid, I found boring, until it had drawn me in. Today its effect was no different.

Despite the coldness of the opening, so many pieces of good fortune happen to our heroes, that this was never going to be a story with an obvious threat. Hope triumphing against adversity, yes, but nowhere here is there any threat.

The acting was weak throughout, the editing jammy in places, (the jump-cut of the train nearly running over Jim's leg was a bit keen) and even the lighting made me wince occasionally...

Ho ho.
... but by the end I felt as if I'd lived a lifetime in these kids' shoes. It's a real instance of a film becoming much, much more than the sum of its parts.

And who can fail to be moved by Bobbie's cry of "Daddy! My daddy!" when she is finally reunited with her father at the end?

It's an absolutely beautiful moment, which is a fortunate thing, as after an hour-and-a-half of pure delight, the rest of the final ten minutes is just awful.

The children's father is finally out of prison and coming home, yet no-one breathes a word of it to them. Or even goes to meet him at the station. Nope, not even his own wife. Sure, maybe their mother is hedging her bets, and maybe the old gentleman on the train had other things to do too. Yet even Parks, in assuming Bobbie's knowledge of her father's impending arrival on the next train, says nothing specific to her of it, or even wants to be there for it.

In fact, dad himself never even bothers with seeing his other two kids! Unbelievable.

And then the closing credits actually break the film's spell by having Bobbie turn to camera and wish the audience "Goodbye" in the final shot.

I'd have hated that as a kid. Had Bobbie been able to see the camera all the way through the film then? Had everyone just been putting one over on us for 109 minutes? Or had we been watching the entire tale through the eyes of a fourth kid, who hadn't had anyone speak to them until the final shot?

Very beautiful and wonderful things do happen, don't they, and I spent most of this film enjoying one of them.

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