Sight and Sound - 12/01/2005
"[I]t has real depth and emotional resonance. Ralph Richardson gives arguably his best screen performance..."
Premiere - 04/01/2006 4 stars out of 4 -- "A beautifully constructed psychological thriller....It brings Hitchcockian zest and depth to a domestic nail-biter."
Los Angeles Times - 04/07/2006
"The best part of this picture, however, is the performance of Richardson, an actor not enough celebrated these days. His quietly insinuating voice and brilliantly equivocal presence makes a marvelous impression..."
Total Film - 08/01/2006 4 stars out of 5 -- "There's an impressively understated and touching performance from Richardson."
Told from the perspective of a young boy, Carol Reed's screen adaptation of the Graham Greene story THE BASEMENT ROOM addresses themes of youthful disillusionment and the complex hypocrisies of adult behavior. Ralph Richardson stars as Baines, who is both both butler and hero to eight-year-old Phillipe (Bobby Henry), the son of an ambassador. While left in the care of Baines and his wife, the boy learns that the butler is having an affair with Julie (Michele Morgan), an embassy typist. His knowledge draws him into a delicate drama in which he will find nothing more elusive than the truth.
In Carol Reed, Graham Greene found his ideal collaborator, one willing to tackle a subject as complex as that of a child's glimpse into the ambiguous moral twilight of the adult world. Although THE FALLEN IDOL stars Ralph Richardson as Baines, an embassy butler, it's told from the point of view of Phillipe (Bobby Henrey), the eight-year-old son of the ambassador. The butler has regaled the boy with tales of his youthful adventures, and the boy's feeling for the servant has come to border on idol worship. One weekend when Phillipe has been left in the care of Baines and his wife (Sonia Dresdel), he learns that the butler is involved with Julie (Michele Morgan), an embassy typist. As Mrs. Baines grills the boy about what he knows, the truth slips out. From belowstairs, the boy later hears a violent quarrel between husband and wife. Shortly thereafter, Mrs. Baines falls to her death fom a window whle spying on Julie. As events unfold, Phillipe begins to understand how little he had known his friend, and how slippery truth can be in the world of adults. A penetrating study of an area seldom explored, the film features a performance of tremendous subtlety by Ralph Richardson.