"Years ago I thought I knew exactly what I wanted to say to you. It's different this time because this time I really do want to die." It's 1950, and we're watching Hester in a shabby London flat. She puts money into the gas meter, spreads out a quilt in front of the fireplace, puts the note on the mantle, turns on the gas and lies down to die. As she drifts off, we see how things used to be. We see Hester enjoying the attention of Tom Page, a young fighter pilot on leave from the war. "I really mean it. You're the most attractive girl I've met." When she asks if he's afraid to go back, he talks about "excitement and fear, the irresistible combination." A slap on the face brings Hester back to life. The landlady and other tenants manage to revive Hester. She is "sorry for all the trouble" she's caused. "Please don't say anything to Mr. Page about my idiotic accident." They all know it wasn't an accident.
When the war is over, Hester and Tom meet again and begin an affair. But in a different scene, we see a priest telling Hester to "Do the right thing. Go back to your husband." And soon we meet Sir William, the husband Hester wants to leave. It's a rather tense weekend at William's mom's, when William discovers that Hester has been having a "sordid little affair." He's hurt and humiliated. "How can you throw away so much for so little?"
It turns out that William's words are even more accurate than he would have guessed. Tom has never been able to get used to to civilian life after the war. Not only is Tom unable to earn a decent living, he's unable to give of himself emotionally, except on rare occasions. Still, it's those rare occasions that Hester treasures... enough to give up everything to be with Tom. Adapted from a play by Terence Rattigan, it starts out relying heavily on the cinematic language of gorgeous imagery and lush orchestration, with very sparse dialog. But when the music ends, the dialog becomes somewhat wordy and it begins to feel more like a stage play captured on film. Rachel Weisz, playing Hester, is mesmerizing and her portrayal is beautifully nuanced. Although the film has a lot going for it -- beautiful cinematography, yummy music and excellent acting -- some moviegoers may not find Hester's obsession with Tom totally convincing. The filmmaker chose to focuses primarily on Hester's self-destructive trajectory... she says she's caught "between the devil and the deep blue sea."
2 popped kernels (Scale: 0-4) A wonderful performance by Rachel Weisz as the self-destructive lover who gives up everything to be with a man who can't give her love Popcorn Profile Rated: R (Sexual content) Audience: Grown-ups Gender: Co-ed Distribution: Art house Mood: Sober Tempo: In no hurry Visual Style: High-end production Character Development: Intense Language: True to life Social Significance: Thought provoking
Read more Popcorn Previews at www.popcorndiary.com
You may also want to read about two other films with Rachel Weisz:
The Whistleblower www.popcorndiary.com/PagesRecentDVD/dvd_whistleblower.htm
Enemy at the Gate www.popcorndiary.com/PagesClassics/cla_enemy_at_the_gates.htm