A Day in the Death of Joe Egg (4 stars)

A Day in the Death of Joe Egg

(15) 104min (Sony DVD retail)

Very welcome reissue of Peter Medak’s 1972 film adaptation of Peter Nichols’ hit West End play is a reminder that bad taste and suburban schadenfreude did not begin with Family Guy.

Alan Bates and Janet Suzman are Bri and Sheila, a teacher and his wife who have created a comic character for their mute, severely disabled daughter (the eponymous ‘Joe Egg’). The cracks in their marriage become apparent when uptight acquaintances (Peter Bowles and Sheila Gish) come to visit and witness their unorthodox approach to parenting.

What should have been a fairly creaky point and shoot TV transfer of a heralded stage play is kept interesting by Hungarian filmmaker Medak’s desire to connect the burgeoning new realisms of theatre and film (most potently represented by John Osborne and Ken Loach). Still shocking and powerful this is a kind of English cousin to Mike Nichols/Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf ? (1966). Minimal extras.

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