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June 6, 2024

Fascinating Photos of Emily Lloyd Cycling in “Wish You Were Here” (1987)

Wish You Were Here is a 1987 British comedy-drama film written and directed by David Leland and starring Emily Lloyd, Tom Bell, Geoffrey Hutchings, and Jesse Birdsall. The film follows a girl’s coming-of-age in a small coastal town in postwar England. It is loosely based on the formative years of British madam Cynthia Payne. The original music score was composed by Stanley Myers.

At the opening of David Leland’s rapturously good Wish You Were Here, blond, 15-year-old Lynda Mansell bikes precipitously across the bowling greens and seaside boardwalks of her somnolent English town. Skirts tucked thigh high, her emblematic pinwheel whirling away on her handlebars, Lynda is doing what she likes best––turning her staid neighbors on their ears.

Pinky-golden 16-year-old Emily Lloyd plays Lynda, her enormous blue eyes and full, short upper lip giving her the look of a wayward cherub. Lloyd’s performance is one of those extraordinary fusions of actress and character that defy you to pry them apart; the last portrayal this shiveringly perfect was Laura Dern’s in Smooth Talk.

Lynda is a diabolically tricky role; we must love her, put up with her flamboyance, watch her throw herself at horrifyingly unsuitable men, understand her motives and cherish her--all at the same time. It is to the credit of writer-director David Leland and his young star that our affection never wavers for an instant.

For 1951, Lynda is a cheeky handful, no doubt about it. She’s far too much for her barber-father, a widower since Lynda was 11. But even as the town reels from her latest bit of back-sass or her most scandalous display of long, long legs (and garters and silken knickers), we are haunted by an earlier vision of Lynda: a wartime snapshot of a little 11-year-old, sitting on a curb, wearing a gas mask that makes her look like the Elephant’s Child.

It’s a disquieting image of aloneness, an underimage whose effect bleeds through the rest of the film. When Lynda’s cheerful self-destructiveness is at its peak--when she gives herself to a sinister, self-loathing man her father’s age, stinking of booze and cigarettes--that image of her at 11 is still there, reminding us of the loss that has shaped her life. Wish You Were Here is something more than the words on a souvenir post card, it’s a cry from the heart.

The film received acclaim from critics, winning the International Federation of Film Critics prize at the 1987 Cannes Film Festival, a BAFTA award for Best Screenplay for director Leland, and the Best Actress Award for Lloyd from the National Society of Film Critics.

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