Most recently I was afforded the chance to watch The Scapegoat. This enchanting tale about a rich aristocrat and his doppelgänger, a down and out teacher, who switch places might sound somewhat overdone. One might fear that like a steak burnt to a cinder it will leave a bitter aftertaste in your mouth. I shan’t lie – initially I was ready to add this to my list of films to use as torture devices should I ever turn serial killer. But this gem of a film proved me wrong. Based on the book by Daphne du Maurier of the same name, director Charles Sturridge’s film takes us on an extraordinary adventure.
Without giving too much away, we are welcomed to a family whose livelihood is at risk of self-imploding. The facade of never-ending wealth is starting to crack. Johnny, our antagonist, is to blame – with his lust for woman, money and to control his family slowly tearing them apart.
Matthew Rhys (Brothers and Sisters), plays the roles of both antagonist and protagonist extremely well. One can almost feel the auras of two separate persons as he embodies each character so convincingly. Eileen Atkins plays Lady Spence and has a great sense of power about her. Her strong-will and crass honesty reminds me of Maggie Smith’s Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess of Grantham on Downton Abbey. Alice Orr-Ewing also features – bringing to life the gentle soul that is Frances, Johnny’s wife. She has this beautiful innocence about her yet a strength that comes through later.
You’ll need to watch this film to find out what happens but I’d like to point out something I found particularly profound. Near the end of the film, it becomes apparent that John is not Johnny – and this discovery comes from the most unlikely of places. What struck me about this was how frightening that revelation is. The people we often neglect and take for granted are the ones that actually know us best. They are the ones who silently watch over us and without realizing it they play an integral part in our lives.
I’d like to challenge you to take a moment and – as if you were watching a DVD to press pause – take a look around. Are the people you give so much of your time to truly caring for you? And who have you forgotten about amidst the flurry of life? Perhaps it’s time to reassess your priorities and ask yourself what love is. Is it the person who goes out with you on a Saturday night to get hammered? Or is it the friend you phone at 2am in the morning asking for a lift home?
These are the things I took away from The Scapegoat. What did you think of the film? Let us know in the comment section below.