Hester (Weisz) is tormented by the trajectory of her life: the wife of High Court judge Sir William (Beale), she has fallen for the dashing Battle of Britain pilot Freddie (Hiddleston), who lets their physical relationship dissipate as he struggles to find a role in society after the war. Now isolated and desperate, Hester attempts suicide but only succeeds in making her life worse. Freddie is furious, and William is unnervingly caring. She's caught between the devil and the deep blue sea: is there any way she can have a happy life?
Davies writes and directs the story with a beautifully light touch, using minimal dialog when a glance or touch can convey everything we need to know.
Elegant camerawork and softly detailed production design forces us into Hester's perspective in each scene, letting us experience both her soaring romance and aching emptiness. And a startling classical song score continually underlines the emotions in ways we don't expect.
At the centre of the film, Weisz is a whirlwind of feelings, as Hester clings to what she knows while being unseettled by the people she interacts with.
Weisz hits every note right, breaking our hearts in the process. And Hiddleston is especially strong as the sexy guy who doesn't quite see how his actions reverberate around him. By comparison, Beale's role is little more than an extended cameo, but he also brings a compassionate dignity to William that catches us off guard.
The plot is actually very simple, as what happens has more to do with relationships and feelings than story or action. And yes, this means that the film is extremely internalised, almost sleepy in the way some of the scenes roll out. But Davies fills every moment with intense observations about how people interact, especially in this place and time when repression was considered a virtue. But of course, we know that it's impossible to hold all of this in forever, and we also know that moving on is never easy.
Run time: 98 mins
In Theaters: Friday 25th November 2011
Box Office USA: $1.1M
Distributed by: Music Box Films
Production compaines: UK Film Council, Camberwell / Fly Films, Film4
Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 79%
Fresh: 103 Rotten: 27
IMDB: 6.2 / 10
Director: Terence Davies
Producer: Sean O'Connor, Kate Ogborn
Screenwriter: Terence Davies
Starring: Rachel Weisz as Hester Collyer, Tom Hiddleston as Freddie Page, Simon Russell Beale as Sir William Collyer, Harry Hadden-Paton as Jackie Jackson, Ann Mitchell as Mrs. Elton, Jolyon Coy as Philip Welch, Karl Johnson as Mr. Miller, Sarah Kants as Liz Jackson, Oliver Ford Davies as Hester's Father, Barbara Jefford as Collyer's Mother, Mark Tandy as Edie and Ravenscroft Assistant, Stuart McLoughlin as Singing Man in Tube, Nicolas Amer as Mr. Elton
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