Wednesday, April 1, 2020
Ordinary Love – United Kingdom
Showtimes: 6:30 & 8:20 pm
Director: Lisa Barros D’Sa, Glenn Leyburn
Cast: Liam Neeson, Lesley Manville, Amit Shah
Running Time: 91 minutes
Dublin Film Critics Circle Award Nomination: Best Irish Film; London Critics Circle Award Nominations: Best Actress, Breakthrough British/Irish Filmmaker of the Year
“Neeson and Manville’s completely convincing and impressively lived-in work here ultimately sets the picture apart from its myriad of similarly-themed brethren.”—David Nusair, Reel Film Reviews
Although his electrifying action roles made him a global icon, Liam Neeson never stopped making the potent dramas that first brought him to notice. And though Lesley Manville won a whole new audience with her scissor-sharp performance in Phantom Thread, her work with Mike Leigh long ago proved the depth of her abilities on screen.
Ordinary Love brings these two master actors together for the first time as their characters navigate one of the most high-stakes gambits imaginable: marriage. Joan (Manville) and Tom (Neeson) are a long-married couple, with their set habits, cozy bickering, and assumption of a long walk together into the sunset.
But when Joan discovers a lump in her breast, it soon becomes clear that cancer will radically change each of them and their relationship. As she enters the cold, uncertain process of medical treatment, their habits are ruptured, and that cozy bickering explodes to reveal the long-buried truths of their marriage.
Working from Owen McCafferty’s wise, observant screenplay, directors Lisa Barros D’Sa and Glenn Leyburn (Good Vibrations) show the challenges that come with what Joan and Tom must go through, and they do so with clarity and tenderness. We follow them step by step as Joan undergoes progressive tests and treatments. Piers McGrail’s under-stated cinematography adds subtle shadings to contemplate what the future may hold and the soundtrack by David Holmes and Brian Irvine is equally delicate but effective in underscoring mood.
Manville’s Joan is a mature woman who has made her accommodations with life, but is unprepared to face this potentially terminal illness. Neeson plays Tom as a man more comfortable showing rather than speaking his love. Their big date during her treatment, and one simple scene where Tom cuts Joan’s hair, illuminate the depth of love that unites this couple, even as they face the ultimate test.