Production Notes From Writer Bob Larbey
Laura (Judi Dench: As Time Goes By) is a single middle aged translator who spends most of her time buried in her work and whose constantly being set up by her sister Helen (Susan Penhaligon; Doctors). Even though she hates it and finds the men she’s constantly being set up with deplorable she can’t help but find herself duped by her sister constant match making attempts.
Mike (Michael Williams; Love In A Cold Climate) is a bumbling middle aged bricklayer whose too shy and awkward to have found love. When he finds himself a suitor for Laura at a party he’s been invited to by Helen’s husband he quickly falls into a scheme with Laura. They must work together to escape the party by making it seem as if they’ve hit it off, and in some small way they do. Unfortunately when Helen and her husband mistakenly assume Laura and Mike have hit it off they try to set them up again which leads to Laura and Mike fibbing about their night at and after the party. The lie brings them closer and they soon find themselves at the beginning of an awkward blossoming relationship.
A Fine Romance is exactly that. It’s not your average show where love is the theme and convenience makes love capable at every turn. Dench and Williams (a real husband and wife tangent) play opposing magnets, unable to bring themselves together (for awhile), but it doesn’t stop them from trying. They’re both set in their ways. Laura, a spinster who likes watching from the sidelines but feels to self aware and unconfident to step into the world and Mike who gets nervous easily and who has lived a bachelor life for far too long need to get used to the couples life. Neither wants to make the first move, instead they chance it by picking events out of a newspaper and “seeing how it all turns out” as they go on their awkward “dates”.
What’s refreshing is that the romance is work. There’s no magical chemistry that’s been written into the equation, no acts of fate to push the two together. Ad a viewer your taken along on their odd and often times chaotic outings together, able to watch their individualities step in and muck things up, but their longing to be with someone they can tolerate take over. Knowing they enjoy being around one another is every excuse to ask for forgiveness or to forgive.
Filled with plenty of awkward moments, a subtle hilarious dose of sexuality, and, really, a great romantic story that’s refreshingly new for being as old as it is, that A Fine Romance is truly a pleasure to watch and enjoy.