Monday, January 23, 2006

Greenjeans Recommends: The Girl in the Cafe

A few weeks ago, Jae and I were talking with our friend Amy N. about how we’re thinking of going to Iceland rather than the Caribbean for our honeymoon. Something about the promise of hot springs and clean cold air appeals to us more than snorkeling and palm trees, nuts that we are. She immediately and vehemently recommended the movie The Girl in the Café that she said takes place in Iceland. We added it to our Netflix queue immediately. We got to watch it last night and what a marvelous surprise it was, but not for the reasons we expected.

With a Richard Curtis screenplay and direction from David Yates, this HBO film begins in London with an awkward, lonely finance advisor preparing with a team of delegates for the upcoming G8 Summit. In a crowded café he meets a young woman and they take a shine to each other. After a few hilariously sweet dates, he asks if she would like to accompany him to Reykjavik where the Summit will be held. She accepts. What we don’t expect is how much of an impact the naïve young woman will have on the outcome of the Summit as pertains to the Millennium Development Goals, or MDGs, a UN-led promise signed by many countries in 2000 to halve extreme global poverty by 2015.

The film is predominantly a very smart and funny romantic comedy. But it also has a message, which toward the end become more emphatic. It’s not Frontline or anything, but if you haven’t been keeping up on your international policy news, this film will give you a good, juicy lesson about global poverty and how world leaders are dealing with poor developing countries in terms of debt relief, aid, and trade. You’ll also get an allegory about the power of a single person’s voice, not to mention a pair of satisfying performances by the credible Kelly Macdonald (Trainspotting, Gosford Park) and the very funny Bill Nighy (the aging rock star in Love Actually). It’s romantic comedy meets The West Wing in the atmosphere of Lost in Translation, the perfect combination as far as I’m concerned.

There wasn’t much footage of Iceland, and it didn’t make us pine for our northern honeymoon, but it did fan the flame of our growing interest in getting involved in efforts toward relieving global poverty. Anticipating such a reaction, the film’s website provides links to more information about the MDGs and who the G8 is, as well as to aid organizations like

Reviewing a film may seem off-topic for Greenjeans’ blog, but in fact the themes this film deals with resonate strongly with where Greenjeans’ heart is. We recommend it highly.

On a separate note, I’ll be away this week, taking some time off with my Dad and sister in NH and visiting with some artisans. I may not be able to update the blog while I’m away, but check back on Friday or Saturday for a new entry. Meanwhile, add The Girl in the Café to your queue. We think you'll be glad you did.

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