In The Feeling and The Telling: Our Review of ‘Hope Gap’

Posted in Movies, Theatrical, TIFF 2019 by - March 11, 2020
In The Feeling and The Telling: Our Review of ‘Hope Gap’

The idea of our parents, as a family, is sacrosanct. It is one of the first building blocks we have for our social awareness and skills. Our parents’ actions and feelings, whether we recognise them or not, imbue us with our own actions and feelings. Shaping what we become, and how we honour them.

Some of us don’t have that ground to build on. And there are those of us who recognise the impending arrival of divorce long before those who are getting it see it coming. Growing up, we don’t think about our parents in terms of whether they are happy are not. They just are. As we grow, we learn, sometimes very quickly, that they are fallible. Make mistakes, have their own desires, long to be happy, and are human.

Writer-director, William Nicholson, takes us inside the last days and fallout from an ending marriage. Edward (Bill Nighy) and Grace (Annette Bening) have been married to one another for almost twenty-nine years. And unbeknownst to Grace, it’s all coming to an end. They have one son, Jamie (Josh O’Connor) who has his own relationship problems.

Both Jamie and Edward are reticent to open up to Grace, and us. Their backs are kept to us for a number of shots, denying us access to their performances. But as the film unfurls and we are invited into their lives. We see that they are naturally quiet and shut off, perhaps in response to Grace’s own personality which is confrontational. And egocentric, though that can be argued of any and all characters on and off screen.

And while there is no right side, nor wrong side in this story. One at a certain age, can see both sides of the argument, and realise mistakes are made on both sides. The most glaring of which is Grace’s proclamations of wanting Edward back. But is it because she really loves him, at this point doesn’t know how to be without him? Or to have some control over him, and by his extension her own life? The arrival of a dog in Grace’s life, and it’s name is highly suggestive of one of those answers.

But it’s all in how we cope with it.

Throughout the film Grace talks about her anthology, and it’s suggested name, I’ve Been Here Before. It suggests to the viewer as well that there are things going on in this story, this film that we may recognise from our own lives. And that this may not be the answer for them. But it is a revelation that others have gone through it, and many have come out the other side.

Nighy has long been a favourite of mine, he is an actor that can be scathingly funny, menacing. Or so true to life that you recognise pieces of yourself in him. I was nervous about Bening when I saw she was going to to the film with an accent. But she holds her own. And her performance has to walk a fine edge, which she is more than capable of balancing.

Standing right alongside them, his character refusing to take sides, O’Connor easily holds his own against two veteran performers, and rounds out a realistic depiction of an average family where no one is happy. And no one is to blame – so can we blame them if someone leaves in search of a happier life?

Truthful and moving, this one resonated on a personal level for me.

This post was written by
TD Rideout has been a movie fan since the moment he first encountered Bruce the Shark in 1975. As passionate about cinema as he is popcorn movies, his film education is a continuing journey of classics new and old. He is at his most comfortable with a book, a drink, his partner and his dog.
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