“I know you’re pretty and the boys like you, but I’m here to protect you.” So says Norma Carlisle (Downton Abbey‘s Elizabeth McGovern), a local society matron in Kansas who never broke a rule in her life and impulsively volunteers to accompany Louise Brooks (Haley Lu Richardson) to New York while the teenager studies dance for the summer. The question is Norma’s motivation, which we learn in the first trailer for The Chaperone, from the Downton Abbey team of writer Julian Fellowes and director Michael Engler.
Brooks would go on to become a silver-screen star and flapper icon of the 1920s, but this film is based on Laura Moriarty’s fiction novel. Here’s the story: At 15, Brooks is a student in Wichita for whom fame and fortune were only dreams. When the opportunity arises for her to go to New York to study with a leading dance troupe, her mother insists there be a chaperone. Enter Carlisle.
But would this utterly conventional woman want to do such a thing? What happens to her when she lands in Manhattan with an unusually rebellious teenager as her ward? (Brooks laughs out loud when Carlisle says without humor, “Men don’t like candy that’s been unwrapped.”) And, which of the two women is stronger: the uptight wife and mother or the irrepressible free spirit?
Campbell Scott, Victoria Hill, Geza Rohrig, Miranda Otto, Robert Fairchild and Blythe Danner also star in the period piece that hits theaters in Los Angeles and New York on March 29 via PBS Distribution and Masterpiece Films.
While we wait for that Downton Abbey movie, have a look at The Chaperone trailer above and poster below, and tell us what you think.