Posted: 08/17/2009


The Diary of Nobody

by Del Harvey

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Talented English actor Hugh Bonneville (Five Days, Miss Austen Regrets, Lost in Austen, Daniel Deronda, and many others) stars as Charles Pooter in this wonderfully tongue-in-cheek filmed version of George and Weedon Grossmith’s book, The Diary of Nobody.

Charles Pooter is the typical middle-aged and lower middle-class city clerk in London, circa the 1890’s. The Diary of a Nobody is his own chronicle of his humdrum life from April 1891 to July 1892. Pooter is an old-fashioned man with high social aspirations and very little else to recommend him. He likes to document various daily petty issues, minor humiliations and what he considers his own personal successes.

Never seen in the film, but prominently featured in his diary, are his wife Carrie, their son Lupin, family friends Mr. Gowing and Mr. Cummings, and his employer, Mr. Perkupp. The program is broken up into four half-hour episodes.

In Episode One, the Pooters move in to their new home, where they endure the regular trains that rush by their house, discover red enamel paint, enjoy a night at the theater and attend a ball at the mayor’s mansion. This episode introduces all of the supporting characters and establishes Charles as a pompous fellow who takes things much too seriously. He also takes great pleasure in bad plays on words. “I wish now I had left those side dishes…aside,” he laughs at the remembrance of indigestion.

In Episode Two, their son William returns home after being dismissed from his job at a bank and now wants to be called Lupin. The family goes on vacation and Charles tries some new fashions. Later, they throw a party in their home attended by Lupin’s new friends, a comedy theater troupe, and Mr. Perkupp.

In Episode Three the Pooter’s Christmas cheer is disrupted by Lupin’s breakup with his girlfriend and Charles is incensed after receiving an insulting Christmas card from an anonymous sender.

And in Episode Four Charles acts on an investment tip from Lupin that goes sour. Mr. Perkupp gives Lupin a job but soon regrets it.

The entire program is a tour-de-force performance by Hugh Bonneville, whose acting talent gives energy and vitality to what might be a humdrum experience in lesser hands. But for lovers of droll English wit, and for anyone who currently expresses themselves on Twitter or blogs or Facebooks, then you will definitely find enjoyment in The Diary of Nobody.

Del Harvey is the founder of Film Monthly, a film teacher, a writer and a film critic in Chicago.

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