Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (1960)

"Saturday Night and Sunday Morning" is an exemplary piece for being so contradictory to itself. It doesn't belong to the French New Wave movement, and yet, if anything is to describe it, that is. It is so intent on viewing its flawed characters that it never stopped and wondered if it should have or not. The result of the confusing combination of anti-hero and teen rebel in one man leads us to hold Arthur Seaton (Albert Finney) at a distance. But maybe we were supposed to do that...then again, who knows?
"Saturday Night and Sunday Morning" is a film about pleasure. It's about nihilism in the sense that Arthur doesn't really care what happens to other people so long as he gets his kicks from situations. The fun ends justifies the mean means as it were.
The movie begins in a factory, where we have a voice-over narration from Arthur about the pointlessness of it all. He only works so that he can get a paycheck and he only wants money so he can have some cheap thrills.
The title implies a binge of sorts, whether sexual, drinking, or just nefarious activities. At the end of the week, Arthur is keen to get away from everything and the first time we see him in the bar, he's having a drinking match with another man. Passing out down a flight of stairs, it's clear that Arthur has some booze-related issues; but don't consider him to be an alcoholic because I think he could stop at any time...he just wants to have fun.
Arthur is mixed up with a married woman named Brenda (Rachel Roberts) whose husband works with Arthur. Now this is getting messy. Arthur, though many years her junior, enjoys his sexual relationship with Brenda and the two of them meet as many times a week as possible.
One Saturday morning, Arthur meets the lovely Doreen (Shirley Anne Field), a girl his age whose prudish upbringing only makes her that much more desirable.
Scoring a date with Doreen, things seem quite pleasant for Arthur who nonchalantly balances the two women on either hand, never letting on about the other one.
So as a rapscallion (the film does condemn his actions, though it is sympathetic towards him) and a womanizer, Arthur is just run-of-the-mill; but we know there has to more to it than just that, and we'd be right.
Questioning the idea of ethics all together, "Saturday Night and Sunday Morning" is all about the progression of responsibility within Arthur. When Brenda comes to him and says that she's pregnant with his child, things start to go south. Another problem arises when Brenda's husband may find out about the pregnancy as Brenda and Arthur struggle to find someone who can give them an abortion.
"Saturday Night and Sunday Morning" may refer to the carefree time spent living the high life and the cruel realization that you may have gone to far later on. Personally, I find it a little too heavy handed at times and the other times too boring to be great.
Yet there is still an aspect of the movie that makes it enjoyable and that's the film aspect itself. The movie is wonderfully made from its cinematography to its score to its acting. The movie, just as a looks, performance, and sound piece, is pretty flawless. One section on a roller coaster proves that Karel Reisz knew what he was doing.
Yet the poignancy of the film is lost in the long sections of building characters. "Saturday Night and Sunday Morning" is a good movie, but maybe it's too haughty for its own good. Maybe it's too smart.
Whatever the reason, it's a hard movie to empathize with; but I commend it for trying so hard.

Score: ★★★

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