Directed by Terrence Davies
Based on the play by Terrence Rattigan
Starring Rachel Weisz, Tom Hiddleston, Simon Russell Beale.

I am a great fan of Terrence Davies’ earlier films THE LONG DAY CLOSES and DISTANT VOICES, STILL LIVES. I’m also a fan of love stories about repressed people, post-war London, and bed-sits requiring coins fed into them to operate. I adore Samuel Barber’s “Concerto for Violin and Orchestra” (perhaps relied on a bit too much here) and songs by Jo Stafford. So there was little chance I wouldn’t like this film.

PLOT: The story takes place in 1950 when London is far from recovered from the war. Hester (Weisz), a vicar’s daughter, is married to a rich judge (Russell), many years her senior. Their marriage seems to consist mainly of fond glances across the room, so when someone capable of exciting real passion comes on the scene, she is at his mercy. Freddie, a former RAF pilot and now an alcoholic, has not adjusted to the duller hues of a life without the brilliant tints of war. The film takes place mostly on a day when Hester, ensconced in a bed-sit after leaving her husband, tries to commit suicide. Freddie, jobless and alcoholic, is not prepared to make their relationship permanent. He had unleashed a passion he is ill-suited to deal with. Although Hester knows this, she is not in control of her ardor either. It almost seems to exist as something with a life of its own, undermining her chances at holding onto poor Freddie. Driving her mad.

This is a quiet film except for the liveliness of the music. Weisz is brilliant at capturing Hester at her best, and even more admirably, at her worse, when she is clinging to a man who seems as insubstantial as the men who never came home from the way. Both male leads make the most of their roles too. Lovely to look at, listen to, think about.

Highly recommended.

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