A LONG WAY FROM HOME

A Long Way  FromHome

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This charming film starts much as it continues with its own leisurely, almost strolling, pace. Basically a study of how long term relationships evolve into a form of silent domesticity-his and her versions of the same Times newspaper in this case- and how passion is replaced with a sense of resignation and understanding whilst more recent attachments bear some of the same hallmarks with the main difference being that neither partner is yet aware of it. Set in Nimes against a series of beiges and neutral tones-indicating the blandness of the relationships at the films core- it is almost an exercise in mild mannered politeness and restraint. The quartet playing the films two couples – James Fox and Brenda Fricker represent the older generation whilst Paul Nicholls and Natalie Dormer are the younger generation’s representatives- are all extremely capable in their roles and Virginia Gilbert’s screenplay and direction manage to draw out the necessary ambience required.

 Joseph and Brenda- Fox and Fricker- have retired to Nimes obviously to spend their latter years in a different environment but far from embracing the great adventure they had probably planned it becomes apparent that life has merely substituted one set of mundane routines for another. The same restaurant for dinner every night –in Brenda’s case exactly the same meal and verbal exchange with the waiter on each occasion- so, desperate for something to break the monotony, Joseph one night strikes up a conversation with a young couple Suzanne and Mark- Dormer and Nicholls- and a friendship of sorts is initiated.

 It soon becomes apparent that Joseph is extremely attracted to Suzanne-on several levels- and loving her vitality and sense of freedom he is desperate that she does not make the same mistakes as he has and fall into similar patterns. They become close during a visit to a vineyard and discuss life and its possibilities whilst Mark discusses the wine business with the vineyard owner. Brenda meanwhile carries on almost regardless but it is interesting to note that although she is the one most trapped within her routines she is also the only one who snaps out of her character when it is required. It is a shocking moment but made all the more poignant and powerful because it is the solitary occasion when she steps out of the role we have assigned to her.

 As said before this is a movie which cruises along at its own pace and considering its subject matter attempting anything else would have been a mistake. It is beautifully shot and the audience is able to engage with each of its main characters but it does not affect any deep emotions on a profound level although I believe this was also the intention of Gilbert and her cast.

A Long Way From Home is showing at Cineworld on Thursday 20th June at 6.15pm and Saturday June 22nd at 4.50pm.

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