The Abduction Club

The Abduction Club


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

In the old days, the ruling classes kidnapped ladies with style. Young bucks in black leather masks, brandishing heavy pistols, would barge into a posh dinner party at a stately home in the middle of the country and carry off rich unmarried girls, who were hating the evening anyway. The thought of being taken by force quite appealed to them.

This happened in County Waterford, Ireland, in 1780. The tradition amongst the land-owning aristocracy - it was the same in Scotland, probably still is - was that the eldest son inherited everything, while their brothers were expected to go into the Church, or the army, and live off wages. The only other recourse was to marry an heiress.

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The Abduction Club speeded up that process. Younger sons, with buckets of charm and no money, joined in droves. Rules of conduct, befitting a gentleman, applied. Stealing was forbidden, shooting into the ceiling disapproved of and good manners encouraged. "We operate on the knife edge of the law," their leader explained, which seems a bit naive, considering what they were doing.

Tom Jones, this is not. It could have been in-the-style-of, at least, but lacks characters that leap off the screen. Daniel Lapaine, as the charmer of choice, who falls for the unsentimental daughter (Alice Evans) of an inveterate gambler, has the looks but little else. His friend, played by Matthew Rhys, is tolerably better. You feel two brain cells rubbing together.

As a costume romance, based on real events, it is inept. As an entertainment, stuffed with fanciable young nobs, acting like 18th century Hooray Henrys, it is an acquired taste. The girls seem desperately modern and Liam Cunningham, fresh from playing a similar role in the blood-sucking Dog Soldiers, is transparently nasty. A soupcon of subtlety might have helped.

Reviewed on: 18 Jul 2002
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Younger sons of aristocrats in Ireland, 1780, join a club and kidnap rich unmarried girls.
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Director: Stefan Schwartz

Writer: Bill Britten, Richard Crawford

Starring: Alice Evans, Daniel Lapaine, Sophia Myles, Matthew Rhys, Liam Cunningham, Edward Woodward, Patrick Malahide, John Arthur, Tom Murphy, Terry Byrne, Guy Carleton

Year: 2002

Runtime: 96 minutes

BBFC: 12 - Age Restricted

Country: UK


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