1994, Irish author William Trevor won his third Whitbread
Prize for his novel, Felicia's Journey. The film rights to
the work were secured by Mel Gibson's Icon Productions, who
later signed on Atom to write the screenplay and direct.
Originally wanting to transfer the story to Canada for the
film, the book's author maintained that the location of the
story be maintained. Consequently, the entire movie was shot
overseas, with a largely British crew. The scenes in Ireland
were shot in Glanworth, while the city locations in England
were filmed in Birmingham.
Felicia's Journey premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in
May, 1999. After playing at the Toronto Film Festival in
September, the film was released in the US in November 1999.
Joseph Ambrose Hilditch is a
catering manager at a large factory where he is known only
as Mr. Hilditch. He is passionate about his work,
dedicated to providing people with good food prepared with
care. Food is also important in his private life. Each
night, the middle-aged bachelor cooks elaborate formal
dinners for his solitary enjoyment, working from videotapes
of a 1950s cooking show, meticulously adhering to the
instructions of the glamorous French hostess. Using china,
crystal and silver, he takes his meals in the formal dining
room of his big house. Like his meals, Hilditch's home decor
dates from the 1950s, as does the green Morris Minor he
drives and the music he listens to.
Seventeen and pregnant,
Felicia has left her home in Ireland for the first time,
journeying to England's industrial Midlands in search of her
lover, Johnny Lysaght. Accustomed to walking among the rich
green fields and ancient ruins of her hometown, she now
finds herself under the shadows of Birmingham's concrete
highways and looming smokestacks. Felicia has scant
information regarding Johnny's whereabouts. She knows only
that Johnny works at a lawn mower factory somewhere around
Birmingham, because he told her so.
is through her quest for Johnny that Felicia first
encounters Hilditch, when she approaches him for information
on the grounds of his factory. They meet again by chance
later that day, and Hilditch begins to take a more active
interest in the clearly troubled young woman, so alone in an
unfamiliar place. He catches up with her the following
morning at a bed-and-breakfast and volunteers his help.