Separate Lies (Julian Fellowes). 85 minutes. Opens Friday (September 30). For venues and times, see Movie Listings. Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNN
In therapy, people are often told not to repress their feelings, because it can lead to explosive outbursts. In acting, that suppressed pain leads to some of the most powerful moments, and nobody does stifled emotion better than Tom Wilkinson .
Wilkinson plays James Manning, a successful businessman whose world is rocked when a freak accident leads to the discovery that his wife ( Emily Watson ) is having an affair. Watching Wilkinson as he learns the news is like a master class in acting. Multiple emotions - regret, anger, wistfulness, denial, loss - pass across his face and are gone before he becomes impassive again. When he says, "I see," he conveys so much by saying so little.
Wilkinson,Watson and Rupert Everett as the prick lover are excellent, but the material is equally strong. That marital infidelity is such an overdone subject makes Julian Fellowes 's script (based on Nigel Balchin 's novel) and direction particularly impressive. Separate Lies is a powerful treatise on love and compassion, never preachy or sentimental, the class theme meshing perfectly with the film's examination of how well we know our partners.