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Festivale book section

Book Reviews

Summer 1997

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Sense and Sensibility Diary

Emma Thompson (Allen & Unwin, pb, RRP $16.95)

The singer Cher once said "My body is my instrument", and the Sense and Sensibility diary is a unique insight into the daily maintenance and abuse of an actor's instrument.

In this case, Emma Thompson, scriptwriter and actress gives an unvarnished account of her inner workings during the Sense and Sensibility project. Thompson writes with a combination of charm and humour in the best tradition of British perversity. She is alarmingly honest, both with her co-workers and with us. We, the readers, spend days with her on location and around London. We probably learn more about the unglamourous world of movie-making than our glitter-glassed eyes really want.

Work on a movie set is about long hours, nasty weather, people punch-drunk from exhaustion, injuries, emotional stress, camaraderie based on geographical and temporal isolation, good humour, bad food, and a special mutual-support system that disappears when the job is done. Its a bit like being on a lifeboat in the middle of the ocean, only more traumatic and embarrassing.

This book should be compulsory reading for film students, would-be critics and starry-eyed wanna-be actors. It is one of the most enjoyable reads I have had in a long time. I loved it all, especially as I could imagine every word spoken in Thompson's wonderful clipped English accent.

Highly recommended.

by Ali Kayn

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