Daily Archives: 17-08-19
Based on the book by Stephen Fry, The Hippopotamus follows disgraced poet Ted Wallace (Roger Allam) who is commissioned by his goddaughter Jane (Emily Berrington) to investigate a series of unexplained miracle healings that have supposedly occurred at Swafford Hall. Jane has terminal leukemia but appears to be cured after a visit to the house. Swafford is the country mansion of Wallace’s old friend Lord Michael Logan (Matthew Modine). Wallace and Michael had a falling out some years ago, but he’s still part of the family, so he is given pretty much free range over the grounds where he meets with Michael’s wife Anne (Fiona Shaw) who apparently was cured of asthma. The family is rounded out by the Logan’s teenage son David (Tommy Knight) and his older, more rational brother Simon (Dean Ridge). David who is Ted’s godson, also wants to be a poet. he house had always entertained various guests, but now they seem to be coming not for the English countryside but for the miracles. The guests who know how the miracles are performed, include a rich woman (Lyne Renee) brings her awkward teenage daughter (Emma Curtis) to be “cured”, and flamboyant theatre director Oliver Mills (Tim McInnerny) seeks a miracle for his heart condition. Ted may be a drunk, and a lousy sleuth, but he has a fine nose for people, and something at the mansion smells rotten. He soon discovers that everyone believes David has the “healing touch” and is responsible for the miracles. It first manifested years ago when he saved his mother from a near fatal asthma attack with just a touch to her chest, now he continues to heal not only with his touch, but with his divine essence, a more powerful, more concentrated application of his healing powers.
The Hippopotamus was an extremely British film; dry wit, snappy dialogue, and the absurd magnified by a stiff upper lip. Very enjoyable, but if you’re not a fan of British humour, you likely won’t enjoy it. I laughed quite a bit throughout the story. The performances were good, and I really think that Roger Allam fit the role perfectly. Even though the film was set in the modern times, it still felt like an Edwardian mystery at times and that kind of lured me in.
Bottom Line: It seems that David naively did believe in his own healing powers, but he could have just been a horny teenager knowingly seducing everyone with the lure of his “magic” semen.