(Netflix and cinemas)
This movie was filmed some ten miles from where I live on the Sussex coast. Grace and Edward (Annette Bening and Bill Nighy) have been married for almost thirty years, but their marriage has withered into staleness and bickering and Edward is about to leave her for somebody else. Their son Jamie (Josh O’Connor) is caught in the crossfire, and his mum expects his occasional visits from London to become weekly.
This a somewhat “slight” story about a break-up. It reminded me a lot of David Lean’s 1940s Close Encounter: two very ordinary people caught up in a relationship without a future. If this was a TV soap, it will be full of fisticuffs and shouting. The scene where Grace overturns a kitchen table is the closest it comes to violence and doesn’t entirely ring true. Being left, for Grace, is a lot like being widowed. Bening, never less than outstanding, captures perfectly the grief and confusion that abandonment induces. Nighy, like Trevor Howard in 1945, masks guilt and pain behind a “stiff upper lip” which is probably just as real in 2021 as it was back then.
|Josh O'Connor as Jamie|
Josh O’Connor, whom we have come to feel pretty negative about as Prince Charles in the Diana/Camilla series of The Crown, gets Jamie exactly right: helpless to know what to do and quietly hurt by the break-up. You get the feeling that Jamie too will marry someone who seems exactly right but will turn out not to be.
Hope Gap is a small stony beach below Seaford Head. In my novel Lillian and the Italians (publishing next month) it’s where Lillian scatters her husband’s ashes. Hope Gap the movie will not lift your spirits, but it shows exquisitely the pain and bitterness of a marriage turning to ashes.