TIFF review: Ordinary Love

Lesley Manville and Liam Neeson deliver quiet but truthful performances as a retired couple going through a life-changing event


ORDINARY LOVE SPEC D: Lisa Barros D’Sa, Glenn Leyburn. UK. 91 min. Sep 10, noon, TIFF 2. Rating: NNNN


Ordinary Love, Barros D’Sa and Leyburn’s chamber drama about two people dealing with a life-changing event, 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 upset, 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 love-making, for instance, or a tragicomic haircutting scene – with a truthfulness that’s unbearably moving.

A subplot about another couple dealing with illness seems contrived and predictable, but that doesn’t detract from this quiet, beautifully observed drama.

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