|Tom Hiddleston and Rachel Weisz in an affair.
Directed by Terence Davies
Produced by Sean O'Connor and Kate Ogborn
Written by Terence Davies (adaptation); Terence Rattigan (play)
Starring Rachel Weisz, Tom Hiddleston, Simon Russell Beale
***1/2 (Original rating: **1/2)
Terence Davies' play adaptation is the story of Hester Collyer, her lover Freddie Page and her husband Sir William. Oscar winner Rachel Weisz stars as Hester, a dissatisfied 1950s housewife who begins an affair with a young pilot (Hiddleston) in the British service. Her husband (Beale) learns of her indiscretion, and, to her dismay, refuses to grant her a divorce. Even though her husband still loves her, she moves out to live with Freddie. Their complicated love affair becomes difficult for both of them, as she clings to him and he pushes her away. What starts as a passionate romance deteriorates into a festering bitterness for reasons I won't spoil here. Despite their feelings for each other, they cannot seem to live together at peace with one another.
The film is technically akin to Atonement in some of its lighting techniques and in some of its great tracking shots. (That shot in the Underground, for instance.) Weisz is the soul of - and the primary reason to see - the film, giving a performance that effectively conveys the character's vulnerability and her deeply-rooted depression. Hiddleston doesn't have much to do but weep one minute and explode the next, which isn't to say that the performance is lacking, necessarily. But the real surprise here is Simon Russell Beale, who plays the quiet judge with restrained anger and simple, if largely unexpressed, love in his heart. The performance is a subtle, mannered portrayal, and Beale delivers in all of his scenes. As a film, this is rather forgettable, but the performances deserve some recognition come awards time.
Oscar Potential: Best Actress (Likely a longshot, though.)