Written by: Terence Davies, based on the play by Terence Rattigan.
Directed by: Terence Davies
Hester Collyer (Rachel Weisz) is married to a much older man. She and her scholarly husband, Bill (Simon Russell Beale), seem to have an affectionate connection. But frankly, he is a bit of a repressed mama’s boy, and Hester is longing for more fun and passion.
She falls in love with Freddie Page (Tom Hiddleston), a Royal Air Force pilot. When Hester is unable to obtain a divorce, they attempt to live together as husband and wife, but they seem to be leading each other down a destructive path.
There are several things I loved about this movie. First and foremost, it offers magnificent performances by the three lead actors. Weisz and Hiddleston are wonderful, but the stand out performance, for me, is by Simon Russell Beale. With subtle shifts in his facial expressions, he speaks volumes.
The film explores the wide spectrum of what we call love, from intense, short-lived passion, to possessiveness, to true commitment. My favorite line in the film, by a minor character, expressed her experience with long-term commitment: “You know what real love is? It’s wiping someone’s ass, or changing the sheets when they’ve wet themselves, and letting ’em keep their dignity so you can both go on.”
I loved the ambiguity in the relationships between Rachel and each of the two men in her life. At various points in the movie, I thought I’d figured out what made these relationships tick. However, the dynamics kept subtly shifting, and the film kept me guessing.
Overall, this film stands out because of tremendous performances by the three leads. This is probably the best role in which I’ve ever seen Rachel Weisz, even better than The Constant Gardener, and I am now a fan of Beale and Hiddleston. It also offers a nuanced look at two painful but often tender relationships.