Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB
United Kingdom, 2020. BBC Films, British Film Institute, Quiddity Films, The Bureau. Screenplay by Harry Macqueen. Cinematography by Dick Pope. Produced by Tristan Goligher, Emily Morgan. Music by Keaton Henson. Production Design by Sarah Finley. Costume Design by Matthew Price. Film Editing by Chris Wyatt.
We’re immediately introduced to a couple who have been happily together for decades, Colin Firth a pianist who is finding himself disconnected to his work, and Stanley Tucci a writer who is struggling to complete his latest book. They have undertaken a caravan trip towards Firth’s first gig in a long time, hoping that the journey will provide them with much needed downtime and an opportunity to be together, but it is during this trip that we learn something much sadder and more ominous that their relationship is facing. Tucci has been diagnosed with dementia and the signs are already beginning to show, right now it’s just bits and pieces that he is forgetting but he knows that much more is coming and probably sooner than he thinks. Firth has now become caregiver, something he is happy to do for someone he loves so completely, but is not honest with himself about how heavy the burden is: Tucci’s illness means that the person himself is starting to disappear while still being there physically, which means that Firth will more and more have to carry the weight of the entire relationship alone. Crossing the beautiful terrain that surrounds them and drawing our focus to their argument, these two are like two stars floating in a sea of nothingness until a central sequence shows them stopping at the country home where Firth’s sister lives. She throws a lively and warm get together that breaks up the painful quiet of this intensely heartfelt film, and it is at this juncture that Firth begins to understand how Tucci plans to deal with his diagnosis. The third act returns our attention to the two protagonists, closing out their tale by depicting their struggle to come to a peaceful agreement about what they plan to do about the future. The simplicity of this film is part of what makes it so unforgettably moving, it focuses on the strength of the bond that these two magnificent actors create thanks to their own incredible skills in front of the camera as well as the surprisingly good chemistry they generate. You can feel how long they’ve been together, you can sense the sexy attraction that first linked them to each other and has carried them along even to this difficult and unhappy point. For all its sadness, it’s a deeply romantic film, the kind that offers the level of intimacy you usually enjoy from watching two such talented actors in a great play.