A couple of days earlier I asked my partner if she had gotten the results back for some blood work that she needed done. When I asked her, I used the phrase “we” in my message. I imagine that I’m not the first person to make such a statement, nor will I be the last; however, this statement is a bit facetious. After all, I am not the one who had their blood tested.
This is a sentiment Lisa Barros D’Sa and Glenn Leyburn test to its fullest in their new film Ordinary Love. When elder couple Joan (Lesley Manville) and Tom (Liam Neeson) discover that Joan has cancer, the extent to which they are a “we,” and the extent to which they are both individuals, will be tested. This intimate portrait of a marriage aims to interrogate the subtleties of complex relationships, where the ordinary becomes extraordinary in its ordinariness.
Ordinary Love is largely carried by its performances. Manville is excellent here, and provides a deeply moving portrayal of a cancer patient, who is buoyed by the highs of meaningful connection, rocked by the many lows. Neeson provides her foil, the literal manifestation of her better half. The banter the two have make this marriage feel true. And yet, surprisingly this did not hit as emotionally hard as I was expecting it to. Maybe though, this is ultimately the point. When you’ve reached the moment where big changes are minimal, even the largest ones feel ordinary.