The perfect example of a stereotypical British film. It is serious, sad, slow, and filled with great acting. Directed by Terence Davies (The House of Mirth, A Quiet Passion), this period piece is about a doomed love affair between an older married woman and a younger man, who is mentally and emotionally scarred from his time at war.
An adaptation (written by Terence Davies) of the play by Terence Rattigan from 1952 which is set after World War II. Several stage and film adaptations of the play have been done over the years featuring such talent as Ian Holm, Colin Firth, Peggy Ashcroft, Margaret Sullavan,Edward Herrman, Blythe Danner, and Vivien Leigh. A popular playwright, much of Rattigan’s work deals with failed relationships and this is no different.
A tale of love, but not a happy one. This is the type of love which burns brightly. Too brightly so it eventually burns out. Being bored with her life and her older husband, Hester Collyer (Rachel Weisz – The Favourite, The Mummy Returns) falls head over heels for younger RAF pilot Freddie Page (Tom Hiddleston – Thor, Avengers: Endgame). It is a passionate love affair. One they must keep secret as Hester is married to high court judge Sir William Collyer (Simon Russell Beale – Into the Woods, Mary Queen of Scots).
Both are rather unsteady people with Freddie being haunted by what he went through during the war. Hester is reawoken by the passion she feels for Freddie. Their love is not without its bumps and bruises. Freddie drinks. They fight. Soon enough he decides he has to leave. Hester is devastated and attempts to end her own life.
Though it has all the ingredients with an interesting story, plenty of conflict and talented actors, in the end it does not really add up to a film which will stand out. Not helping the plodding pace are the flashbacks which seem almost incomplete or haphazard. So much so that you will feel your frustration mounting. Even more frustrating is your mounting feeling that something really good was there. For instance, the scene in which Hester and William go to tea at his mother’s (Barbara Jefford – Philomena, The Ninth Gate) is impeccable. Plenty of pointed dialogue and subtle moments. Unfortunately, there are not enough scenes like this one.
In general Weisz is really good in the film. Really is an actress who is able to communicate all the levels of a character. But what goes on around her is rather muddled.
You can stream the film on Roku.