Stiff Upper Libido

TITLE: DAMAGE

DIRECTOR: LOUIS MALLE

WRITER: DAVID HARE

TITLE: PETER'S FRIENDS

DIRECTOR: KENNETH BRANAGH

WRITERS: RITA RUDNER, MARTIN BERGMAN

THE BOTTOM LINE: How to cope with postimperial passion and pessimism? Two British films provide answers.

ONE THING THE BRITISH RULING classes learned in their centuries of imperial domain was how to suffer at the hands of lower orders they could not control. They got the starch in that stiff upper lip from pretending not to be shocked or exasperated at the outrages of unruly colonials to whom they played nanny. Now, with the empire in eclipse, Britons have turned inward to...

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