This year's most anticipated and perhaps most hyped film - 1.9.17 - is released on 1st February. The story of ordinary Loders housewife Maureen Bottle's extraordinary Dorset lottery win - numbers 1 and 9 were the final two in the sequence with 17 the bonus ball - it is, at once, a familiar rags-to-riches story and a moral tale for the ages. And though, on the face of it, it might seem ill-suited to the big screen, this seemingly unimportant vignette becomes surprisingly epic and universal when given the trademark Dollywood thrupiecefilm treatment. Cinema fans will also know they are in safe hands with Director Pam Mendacious at the helm. Her previous credits include A Chetnole Story and Just Popping Out for a Paper.
SPOILER ALERT: The next 3 paragraphs contain information those intending to see the film may not wish to know.
For those unfamiliar with this bitter - yet ultimately heartwarming - tale, Maureen Bottle was an inveterate lottery player who bought her ticket every week and always used the same numbers: 18.104.22.168.9.17 which corresponded to the date of her wedding anniversary [21.6.79] and the number of her children . Life was hard, not to say crowded, in the 2 up and 2 down in Loders where she worked as a school cleaner. Husband Elfick who had been demobbed from the NHS in 1978 was a largely absent father who popped in occasionally for "a quick one" but was otherwise generally "unavailable". Maureen dreamed of a "big win" and her life was transformed when on 9th March 2016 she won the lottery outright, bagging a prize of nearly £3,000. For starters, Elfick reappeared and even moved back in, as did 13 of the children who had by now gone their separate ways.
If neighbours expected Maureen to quit her job and luxuriate in her new-found wealth, they were mistaken. Instead, she continued to empty waste-paper baskets, wipe the blackboards and polish the sanitary ware at St Lidwina's Primary School, Loders*. It was just as well. On 19th April 2019 - barely a month after her "big win", Maureen returned home to find an empty tobacco tin and an IOU from Elfick to the value of £2,768. He had, he explained, taken one of his "more difficult" girlfriends to Ibiza - a place she had always longed to visit.
*EDUCATIONAL NOTE [You might as well learn something whilst reading this c**p [Ed] St Lidwina fell while ice skating at the age of 15 and never fully recovered from her injuries. After a life of piety, her grave became a site of pilgrimage; after her canon- ization, she became the patron saint of ice skaters.
Never down for long, Maureen physically and metaphorically shrugged her shoulders [a marvellous moment in the film, its resolute fortitude perfectly delivered by Mendacious and her star Olivia Mustard] and returned to her work. Sadder perhaps; wiser certainly.
An achingly beautiful final scene - a long, slow panning shot of Maureen from the rear, a mop and bucket and a long school corridor before her - proves almost unbearably moving. Thankfully, the slightest suggestion of a smile beneath the tears as she turns to camera [another acting masterclass from Mustard] signals that perhaps all will be well. Maureen - and, we might add, we too** - have learned a lesson: never keep your lottery win in a tobacco tin where your bastard of a husband can find it.
**EDUCATIONAL NOTE Not to be confused with metoo, a popular cinema industry campaign designed to gain more publicity for stars who don't think they are famous enough.
CINEMA GEEK: QUIRKY FACTS #1. The real Maureen Bottle's lottery win was in 2016, the film inexplicably transfers the action to the 1950s long before the Dorset Lottery was invented. A directorial boo-boo or a stylistic choice?
1.9.17 opens in cinemas Dorset-wide in February. It is a thrupiecefilm production in association with the Dorset Lottery. Starring Olivia Mustard and Timothy Salt, it is a Threadbone Pictures film and a Whisky-McNightly release, directed by Pam Mendacious.