The Bye Bye Man
The Bye Bye Man is the kind of film that is so boring and bereft of anything of possible interest that it becomes infuriating.
“An Awfully Big Adventure" is a soggy British drama set in the lean years after World War II, when everything was still rationed, especially, it would seem, cheerfulness. It takes place in Liverpool, a provincial town, served by a provincial theater that defines the very essence of provincialism, since everyone associated with it keenly feels his or her distance from London.
"You are," the theater director assures his cast on the first day of rehearsals, "the very best people we could find - for the money." They look glum at this news, but not surprised. The director, named Meredith Potter and played by Hugh Grant, is himself a damaged piece of goods - a bitter, chain-smoking man whose emotions are reined in too tightly because, we suspect, he once let them out too loosely, and got hurt.
Into this morass wanders a stage-struck local girl named Stella (Georgina Cates), who will take a job, any job, just to be near what she sees as theatrical glamor - and, in her town, she's right. She gets hired as the assistant stage manager, and soon begins discovering and guessing the various secrets of the company - although some very big ones are saved for the end of the film. And she becomes the object of passes from some of the men in the company, although she has a rather chilling effect on one when she replies to his advance, "I don't like the feeling of it, thank you very much." Stella is not the most attractive of young women, and some critics have faulted the film because members of the company are drawn to her. They miss the point, which is that in their desperate situation, emotional beggars can't afford to be choosers, andStella's relative innocence and naiveté make her glow in contrast to the weariness all around.
The company struggles through its repertory season, until a mishap leaves them shorthanded. There is nothing to do but call on the legendary P.L. O'Hara, played by that invaluable British character actor Alan Rickman as a man of great talent who has lost his way, and who masks despair with cynicism.