Liam Neeson and Lesley Manville bring depth and compassion to this small, beautifully observed film
ORDINARY LOVE (Lisa Barros D’Sa, Glenn Leyburn). 91 minutes. Opens Friday (February 21). See listing. Rating: NNNN
Ordinary Love is a chamber drama about two people dealing with a life-changing event and like life itself, it sneaks up on you.
Joan (Lesley Manville) and Tom (Liam Neeson) are a retired couple whose banal chitchat – about Fitbits, Brussel sprouts and that new ingredient in the soup – has the ring of authenticity. When Joan is diagnosed with breast cancer, their familiar, comfortable rhythms and routines are upended, and long-buried resentments – especially over the death of their daughter – emerge.
Owen McCafferty’s script is moving because the dialogue and situations seem so ordinary. But the two actors bring depth and compassion to their characters, investing some moments – an impromptu bit of lovemaking, for instance, or a tragicomic haircutting scene – with a truthfulness that’s unbearably moving.
A subplot about a gay couple dealing with illness seems contrived and predictable, but that doesn’t detract from this quiet, unsentimental and beautifully observed drama.