NOTE: This film was scheduled to play at Railroad Square Cinema this week, however the theater has temporarily closed due to the COVID 19 virus. However, some film distribution companies are adding newly released films to streaming services.

Ordinary. Your dictionary defines it thus: “Run of the mill — colorless, humdrum and middle-of-the road.”
That would basically describe Joan and Tom’s life as the ordinary people of Lisa Barros D’Sa’s and Glenn Leyburn’s new film.
Joan and Tom, soft-spoken people, appear to us in a nicely appointed Belfast home as a retired couple, she from teaching and Tom from some kind of factory foreman job. We learn right away that they have lost their only child, a daughter, to an accident.

They dine at a small table near a window with an opaque blind that barely gives the beige interior of their rooms any light at all. Is there a view outside? They don’t seem to care.
Each day is a litany of almost compulsive actions. They take a brisk walk along damp, windy Irish streets along a colorless river, and then stroll through a market, with Joan selecting Brussels sprouts, with Tom loading his basket with his favorite beer.

Their conversations are as colorless and ordinary as the small bowls of soup they sip. They seem to have no friends and are content with the basic life they share.
The brown light that flows through their rooms colors the mood of the story from the outset, and it slowly gets worse.
Then Joan, in the shower, discovers a lump in her breast, and the story starts down the dark road through the doctor visits, the diagnosis, the surgery and then chemo.
Despite the descent, they continue their walk until it becomes impossible.

One can imagine a list of British actors in these roles, so how surprising then to cast in these parts, two of the most exciting actors in films, Liam Neeson, the two-fisted, two-gun hero of the “Taken” films and widower of “ Love Actually,” and Lesley Manville, nominee for Best Supporting Actor for 2017’s “Phantom Thread.”
Both stars work at the material with their usual grace and long-polished technique, but with the exception of one terrifying scene when both explode with frustration and honesty, it simply comes across as two actors participating in a documentary.

Reviewing a film is my job, no matter what the subject. This one is deeply personal. Between the two of us, my wife and I count six victims of the disease in our families. As for myself, I can’t imagine, especially at this terrifying time anyone wanting to sit through a replay of their own pain.
There are no answers here, just another documentary-like tale of grief.

J.P. Devine, of Waterville, is a former stage and screen actor.

filed under:

Augusta and Waterville news

Get news and events from your towns in your inbox every Friday.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.