EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?
|SEPARATE LIES (director/writer: Julian Fellowes; screenwriter: based on the novel A Way Through the Woods by Nigel Balchin; cinematographer: Tony Pierce-Roberts; editors: Alex Mackie/Martin Walsh; music: Stanislas Syrewicz; cast: Emily Watson (Anne Manning), Tom Wilkinson (James Manning), Rupert Everett (Bill Bule), Linda Bassett (Maggie), Hermione Norris (Priscilla), David Harewood (Inspector Marshall) and John Neville (Lord Rawston); Runtime: 87; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Christian Colson/Steve Clark-Hall; Fox Searchlight; 2005-UK)|
Watson give sharply observed performances, that don't allow the film to
become a sudser."
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Julian Fellowes ("From Time to Time"), the screenwriter for Gosford Park in his directorial debut, is the writer-director of this entertaining and insightful stiff upper lip English infidelity melodrama that concerns itself with the snobbery of the privileged class and creates a morality maze about what is right and wrong. It's based on the 1951 novel A Way Through the Woods by Nigel Balchin.
The successful, wealthy,
stuffy and brilliant London high-powered corporation lawyer James
Manning (Tom Wilkinson) and his attractive wife Anne (Emily Watson)
seem like an ideal couple, who split time between their London
townhouse and their
country estate in
Buckinghamshire. While in their country place, the husband of Mannings' housekeeper, Maggie (Linda Bassett), is the victim of a hit and run accident
during the afternoon. His death happened on the day James misses a
cocktail party. Coming home by train late in the evening from work,
James is given a ride home from the station by his wife in the car of
neighbor William Bule
(Rupert Everett) and notices a scratch on his Range Rover. Bule's the
handsome but arrogant and amoral divorced scion of the local lord, who
just returned from New York. At the funeral, the suspicious lawyer
notices the scratch on Bule's car has been painted over, and meets with
Bule for lunch in London to question him about it. Badgered by the
lawyer, Bule confesses his car was involved in the accident and
promises to go to the police. When the self-satisfied James tells Ann
the news that he got Bule to do the right thing, he's taken aback to
learn that Ann was the driver and that she's been having an affair with
Bule. With the tables turned, James refuses to have his guilt-ridden
wife go to the police. He worries this scandal will damage his career.
When Chief Inspector Marshall (David Harewood)
questions the lawyer, he lies to protect himself and his wife. The
loveless marriage, based on security and comfort, begins coming apart
further because of the strains regarding the accident and the
realization that their marriage is based on a lie. The point being is
that their entire life is based on lies, and they can't see the damage
Wilkinson and Watson give
sharply observed performances, that don't allow the film to become a
sudser. The weakest part of the film is the conveniently devised
mystery story, as it pales when compared to the sparks flying when the
couple try to act out their part as a concerned couple. It was
especially poignant when Ann tells James that he's tough to be with
because his standards are so high. There are no sympathetic characters, but
Fellowes tries to give each one in the love triangle some love for
their difficult position they have staked out for themselves.
REVIEWED ON 6/9/2010 GRADE: B
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
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