Lawrence (Bill Nighy) is a shy, lonely, fifty-seven year old researcher in England's Office of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He has been working long hours to prepare for the G8 Summit in Reykjavik, Iceland, where the conferees will discuss proposals to improve conditions in those nations suffering from extreme poverty. One afternoon in a crowded café near his office, Lawrence asks a girl sitting alone if he might share her table, and she agrees. Her name is Gina (Kelly Macdonald); she's Scottish, in her twenties, and apparently a student. Their relationship begins awkwardly and grows over the following days to include meals and long walks together.
One day on an impulse Lawrence asks Gina if she would like to accompany him to the conference in Reykjavik, and she accepts. Arriving at the conference and discovering that all the hotels are full, the two find themselves sharing Lawrence's hotel room. As Gina discusses the conference issues with Lawrence, reads position papers and socializes with conference attendees, she grows increasingly passionate and vocal about what she sees as the conferees' refusal to take definitive action to save the lives of the thirty thousand children who die each day - one every three seconds - due to preventable conditions of disease and starvation. What Lawrence does not understand, is that events in Gina's past are driving her behavior; unfortunately its effect on Lawrence and his career are devastating.
Written by Richard Curtis (Notting Hill, Bridget Jones's Diary, Love Actually), the screenplay features well-developed characters, a believable central relationship and a clear story arc. This is a poignant inter-generational love story as well as a film with a strong message, and we're left wondering how the world can be changed so eleven million children don't have to die each year in extreme poverty. In tone, the film feels a bit like Autumn in New York, Elegy, Starting Out in the Evening, or Suburban Girl, so if any of those films appealed to you, then you might enjoy The Girl in the Café.
Labels: drama, romance
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