August 4, 2018
1287.) Few American viewers have seen the two films directed by Dennis Potter, due to their having been slammed by critics on both sides of the Atlantic. This week I’ll be talking about the second thing he directed, his only theatrical feature. Secret Friends (1991) stars Alan Bates as an artist who suffers amnesia on a train ride. Like many of Potter’s protagonists, Bates’ character moves between realities – in this case, his real married life, his childhood (in which he had a “secret friend”), a fantasy game he and his wife have acted out (hooker/john), and a bunch of fantasies that involve his wife and his friend (and his friend’s wife). The film is uneven but contains some brilliantly emotional moments, and great performances from Bates, Gina Bellman (of Potter’s other film, the miniseries “Blackeyes,” and the later sitcom “Coupling”), and Frances Barber. Secret Friends is not for those who are unfamiliar with Potter’s other work, but it is a fascinating work for those who are already fans.