New York City. The jazz age. One recklessly rebellious teenager and her chaperone. What could go wrong?

Before Louise Brooks, the 1920s silver screen sensation, became a cinematic icon and sex symbol of her time, she was merely a student of 15 years old, living in Wichita, Kansas. Dreaming of fame and fortune, she was a free-spirited young woman who never met a rule she couldn’t break. An opportunity arises for her to study with a leading dance troupe in New York City and her mother insists on her having a chaperone.

Local society matron Norma Carlisle, who has never broken a rule in her life, (Elizabeth McGovern) has committed herself to the routines of an unfulfilled home life. While there is a clear distance in her marriage, the audience is not initially privy to its cause. Awakened by a carefree performance from the young Louise (Haley Lu Richardson), Norma unexpectedly volunteers to accompany the young dancer for the summer.

The story of The Chaperone then follows the unconventional pair as they journey to New York City and tells of the  relationship they develop. This relationship is often tested as Louise pushes boundaries and Norma attempts to control her reckless spirit to prevent Louise from self-sabotaging her budding career. When the pair become at odds with each other very early on, the audience is left to wonder, why did this utterly conventional woman accompany an unusually rebellious teenager in the first place? Perhaps her motives run deeper than a mere getaway from the monotony of small-town life.

This colourful film provides a beautiful balance between drama and comedy, secrecy and knowledge as well as balance between two characters who are polar opposites. Along with them, the audience learns the moral lessons the pair teach each other and our sympathy for their behavior grows with the knowledge of their past.

It is a story of self-discovery, love, and an unusual friendship forged out of equally unusual circumstances. Set against the backdrop of the roaring Jazz Age, this period film from the writer and director of Downtown Abbey is a heart-warming tale of two women finding their strength against all odds and in turn, forming an unbreakable bond. The audience will be left in awe as they witness a truly wonderful performance from both Richardson and McGovern, as they allow us into the lives of their characters to journey with them as they discover who they were, who they are and who they are to become.

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