No Place for Jennifer ★★★★

"We're nearly at the court now."
"I hope we never get there. I hope an accident happens and I get killed."

"Jennifer doesn't want anything temporary anymore."

This shares many elements with the later Background, where I saw Janette Scott first, though here she's the only child of the parents getting divorced (which is basically what I wished Background had been for Mandy Miller) and to my mind (surprisingly, since it came first) it has a better outcome in that it's neither completely against divorce nor does it leave the child's concerns out of the picture (perhaps Background was someone's rebuttal to this?).

It's worth the watch entirely for Janette's first performance, though. I connected most in the moments where Jennifer is simply observing the world around her, like on the train after her mother tells her about the divorce, observing other children talking about the upcoming Christmas, realising that's a life that hers is no longer going to resemble; when she's at school and the other kids whispering about her parents (the opposite scenario to her character in Background who's delighted about being the subject of gossip - Jennifer meets an even more delighted teen at the court here who's on her third divorce…); and a shot in the middle I found really similar to one in The Exorcist where Chris is on the phone to Regan's father arguing and Regan is in the foreground listening.

What I noticed in particular was the way it keeps moving between the ways in which Jennifer is fine or even happy with the wider, simpler changes happening around her and the very particular things that come under that umbrella (like when her mother tells her the new man sleeps in the same bed as her, or when her father initially tells her he's going to remarry) that upset her, which is the kind of complex insight into any human being, let alone a child, you don't get often even now let alone in 1950 - people always assume you're upset about the whole thing when it's usually some tiny aspect you don't know how to broach with them.

The movie takes an unexpected couple of turns in the final act where Jennifer's sent to a psychologist and runs away (some great views of old London) - at one point she seems to actually consider throwing herself onto the tube tracks then encounters a dirty old man on the train… all a little melodramatic but in keeping with the nightmarish state of mind the movie seems overall to be trying to present. Anyway, I could've been really disappointed with this since my hopes were so high (it's the last of Janette's early work I get to see for the first time) and I wasn't. And I really loved how it came back to the "secret room" in the end, such a beautiful touch.