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Colour Room, The


Stars: Phoebe Dynevor, Matthew Goode, Kerry Fox, David Morrissey, Bronwyn James, Tony Pitts

Director: Claire McCarthy

A pleasant, watchable biography of the early life pf the famous potter and ceramicist Clarice Cliff, who broke a glass ceiling to succeed in a world totally dominated by men.

It's 1915, and soot, grime and painterly brown smoke cover the Potteries region of middle England, and its focus, Stoke-on-Trent. Down below, the teenage Clarice (Bridgerton's Dynevor), who lives with her mother (Fox) and younger sister Dot (James), is working painting flowers on ready-glazed vases. With brothers away in the war, the family income is meagre.

So it's bad news when Clarice, ever the challenger of authority, gets the sack. Fortunately, she lands another job, at Wilkinson's, a huge pottery in the centre of town, where she presses designs on to plates and is bored stiff. Getting her sister's boyfriend Reg (Oliver Huntington) to provide her with some cast-off lumps of clay, Clarice creates a vase.

Reg is sacked and, on the verge of the same and a conviction for theft, she shows the vase to the factory's co-owner Colley Shorter (Goode). It looks like any old vase to us, but it turns the corner for Clarice, who is promoted to the pottery workshop, where she makes and decorates Toby jugs, progressing through the years to glazer, colourer and finally designer.

Her first solo exhibition, at a ceramics fair, however, is a flop with male buyers, who find her bright, colourful designs cheap and tawdry. Demoted at the factory, Clarice resolves to target women rather than men.

Dynevor's quirky personality and highly individual takes on dialogue, coupled with her potent enthusiasm, do lift the director's conventional treatment a little, while Goode fits the bill as the dashing Colley, whose brother (Pitts) disapproves of a woman designer in no uncertain fashion.

The project, though, has a TV feel to it, and there are a couple of obviously painted backdrops, on which Clarice herself would probably have done a better job.

There is no copyright date on the film.

David Quinlan

UK 2021. UK Distributor: Sky Cinema. Colour (unspecified).
109 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: PG.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 12 Nov 2021