Grace (Annette Bening) has her life all figured out. She shares the perfect marriage with Edward (Bill Nighy) in their idyllic cottage in a small English seaside town, comfortable in their small talk, anticipating each other’s needs and quite contentment.

Until, in the middle of a visit by their twenty-something son Jamie (Josh O’Connor), the granite-faced Edward announces that after 39 years, he’s leaving her. He’s fallen in love, he says.

Not a lot happens in this honest little gem, and those expecting emotional fireworks may find it a bit slow, but it’s never boring. Those willing to invest the time and attention, however, will have an engaging, insightful, unbelievably sad but ultimately quietly uplifting experience. 

It’s a movie you see for the acting, and Bening’s character, a smug, controlling woman with not the slightest trace of self-awareness, is its driving force. She’s so cluelessly off-putting it’s a wonder Edward waited this long to exit the loveless marriage. Brava, Annette!

It’s a bit stagey, adapted as it was by director William Nicholson from his own play, apparently based on his own parents. But this is a quibble. (100 min)

Japan release date: June 3, 2021

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