Based on the 2012 novel by Laura Moriarty, The Chaperone is the story of two women brought together through circumstances and their individual attempts to fulfil themselves.
The film is set in 1922 and housewife Norma Carlisle (Elizabeth McGovern) volunteers herself as a chaperone to a young girl wanting to attend a dancing school in New York for the summer. The young girl is 16-year-old Louise Brooks ( Haley Lu Richardson) a free-spirited dancer who is determined to become famous. Norma has her work cut out for her trying to keep the young Louise chaste and proper.
Norma has her own reasons for wanting to visit New York; she was adopted as a young child and wants to find her parents. She returns to the orphanage from where she was adopted hoping to get some information about her birth mother, the nuns that run the orphanage are unable or unwilling to divulge any details of her parents and she leaves empty-handed. Unwilling to give up so easy Norma returns daily to the orphanage in the hope of getting some help. It is on one of these visits that she meets the handyman who agrees to help her find her records. With his help, Norma manages to meet her birth mother (played by Blythe Danner) but does not get the outcome that she had envisaged.
Meanwhile, Louise is revelling in the excitement of living in New York and the attention she attracts from the young men she encounters along the way.
The film flits between the two stories whilst also revealing back stories to each of the women’s lives before the trip. Norma’s story is told in flashbacks that tell of her sad secret life, although she does have a happier ending.
Whilst the story was interesting, I would not say this was my favourite movie this year; although it did provoke some conversation about how societies acceptance of homosexuality and unmarried mothers has changed over the years and how people can find themselves confined by their social status in life.
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