VOD film review: The Colour Room
Written by Arthur
Rating Phoebe Dynevor delivers a winning turn in this charming period drama about pottery pioneer Clarice Cliff.
Director: Claire McCarthy Cast: Phoebe Dynevor, Matthew Goode, David Morrissey Certificate: PG Where to watch The Colour Room online in the UK: Sky Cinema / NOW
“The modern woman has a more refined taste,” mansplains a senior bloke in the pottery industry to Clarice Cliff (Phoebe Dynevor), a young factory worker with dreams of becoming a designer and proving such men wrong. Fans of pottery, or of feel-good biopics, won’t be surprised by what happens next, but that doesn’t stop The Colour Room from being any less charming.
We meet Clarice as she takes a job at AJ Wilkinson’s Royal Staffordshire Pottery, where she is a paintress – a role that involves painting patterns on to plates, cups and more by hand, repeating the process by rote. But Clarice’s sights are set higher than that, with a creative flair to go with her technical skills. A scandal involving some stolen clay scraps later and she finds herself on the radar of Colley Shorter (Matthew Goode), the factory owner who is facing financial turmoil – should he stick to tradition and cater to the company’s existing audience or try something different and risk some newer ideas?
There’s something ironic about a film celebrating a daring new voice in an old-fashioned industry feeling so conventional, but the cast and script bring enough nuance around the edges that the end product is impossible not to like. Matthew Goode’s handsome, stiff-upper-lipped gentleman is careworn but never cliched, while
Clarice , Bridgerton) is a young factory worker in the industrial British midlands of the 1920s. Bursting at the seams with ideas for colours and shapes, this is the story of how she broke the glass ceiling and risked everything to become one of the great Art Deco designers – ensuring the survival of her co-workers through the Great Depression and becoming a household name. David Morrissey delicately counters the sexist views within the company with a surprisingly sensitive turn as art director Fred Ridgeway; a scene in which they share notebook drawings is quietly moving.
But the centrepiece here is undoubtedly Phoebe Dynevor, who follows up Bridgerton with a starmaking role. She makes Clarice mischievous but sincere, stubborn but gentle, determined but not arrogant – and, most of all, she makes her a winning source of imagination, as she unveils an idea rooted in what women want, not what men think women want. The result is a tale of a glass ceiling broken that will entertain anyone, no matter how “refined” their taste is.