Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.5. USA/United Kingdom, 2011. Camberwell / Fly Films, Film4, UK Film Council, Protagonist Pictures, Lipsync Productions, Artificial Eye, Fulcrum Media Finance. Screenplay by Terence Davies, based on the play by Terence Rattigan. Cinematography by Florian Hoffmeister. Produced by Sean O’Connor, Kate Ogborn. Music by Samuel Barber. Production Design by James Merifield. Costume Design by Ruth Myers. Film Editing by David Charap. Golden Globe Awards 2011. Toronto International Film Festival 2011.
Tortuously uninspired in her marriage to an older judge (Simon Russell Beale) and madly in love with a young RAF pilot (Tom Hiddleston), Rachel Weisz gives up her posh trappings and goes to live in a drab bedsit with her lover in this sumptuous adaptation of the play by Terence Rattigan. Eventually she finds herself overcome with shame and despair when passion gives way to familiarity and neglect. Terence Davies once again returns to the setting of post-war England that has marked some of his best work for a study of the tempestuous feelings of romance that bring with them as much trauma as they do elation, a quiet, studied piece whose glowing spots of lamplight cast a gorgeous glow on the leads as they navigate between their feelings and their morals. In true British style, these characters are constantly desperate to get back to their polite rhetoric following expressions of love or rage; Weisz pours her heart out to her husband in begging him to understand why she cannot go back to him, then puts on her most proper tone to thank him for bringing her a birthday gift. Moments like these could have been done in a stiff, mawkish manner, but Davies sees the humour in even the darkest situations and gives so much truth to the changes in tone that the wonderful dialogue rings with sincerity and hits deep. A very subtle, poignant piece of work, helped along even more by the superb performances at the lead: Weisz’s darkly sexy mystique is as fascinating when raw as she is when resting on the veneer of social propriety; Hiddleston’s suavely handsome face and crisp, apple-cutting voice beautifully laces his boyish, boundless desire to get back to the days of war.