Movie Review: ‘An Inspector Calls’

John Thomas

A wealthy Yorkshire family is celebrating a special event with a dinner party in their lavish home. The prominent Birling family is announcing the engagement of their daughter Shelia Birling (Chole Pirrie) to Gerald Croft (Kyle Soller).

Arthur Birling (Ken Scott) and his wife Sybil Birling (Miranda Richardson), are overjoyed – one wealthy family marrying with another. The pompous Arthur also sees the union as moving him a step closer to the knighthood he so earnestly desires.

Shelia is thrilled with the engagement ring Gerald has just slipped onto her finger. Her brother is sullen – the sherry he’s consuming doesn’t improve his mood.

In the midst of the celebration, a maid enters and announces the arrival of a police inspector. Having no idea who he is or what he wants, Arthur asks her to escort him in. Responding to the question as to his presence, Inspector Goole (David Thewlis) says he is investigating the suicide of a young woman in town, Eva Smith (Sophie Rundle).

The family is puzzled by his arrival and irritated at his brusk manner. Goole has a photograph of the young woman but will only show it to one family member at a time. He begins with Arthur.

Eventually, with evidence provided from the girl’s diary, Arthur does recall firing her from his factory. “She was a troublemaker and organized a strike for more wages in the middle of preparing our biggest order,” admits Arthur.

Shelia is next and after studying the photograph a moment, finally remembers seeing Eva while she and her mother were shopping for a new frock. They are undecided as to which one to buy so they ask Eva to help with the decision. Shelia mistakes the smile on Eva’s face for a smirk and goes to her boss and has her fired.

When presented with the photograph, Gerald reluctantly admits to having met her in a bar but by another name – Daisy. After losing her job at a factory and clothing store she decides it’s best to change her name to Daisy Renton. Hearing she’s penniless and without lodgings, Gerald takes pity on her and offers her the use of a friends’ flat who is away traveling for six months. She becomes Gerald’s mistress until the friend returns.

Without funds or a home again, she falls under the spell of the Birling son, Eric (Finn Cole). He is smitten with her beauty; they fall in love and she becomes pregnant. He offers to pay for her food and lodgings.

The romance continues until the now Alice Grey discovers Eric has been stealing money to pay their expenses. She leaves him. Her last hope for assistance is at a charity-funded women’s shelter – Sybil is on the shelter’s interview committee. After studying the photograph, Sybil reluctantly recalls interviewing her and denying her request for financial assistance. Sybil felt it would be better if the girl confronted the father of her child and ask him for money.

Inspector Goole has finally achieved his goal – establishing the complicity of the entire family about the suicide. He dons his hat and coat and walks out the front door into the darkness.

Arthur is furious with Goole and calls his superior to complain. The chief inspector has no idea to whom he is referring. They have no Inspector Goole on their staff – never have.

“An Inspector Calls” is directed by Aisling Walsh (Credits: Maudie, Elizabeth is Missing). It is a “should see” production that runs 87 minutes.



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