Grace and Edward had been married for 29 years and the strain of the relationship decaying over the years had become too much for him. During a weekend where he convinced his son Jamie to come home he announces he is leaving her.
Hope Gap is a difficult film at times because you find yourself feeling sorry for all involved but then not. That probably doesn’t make very much sense but I will do my best to explain how I came to that conclusion. The opening scenes paint the picture of a marriage that just feels finished and quite frankly boring. Spending time in different rooms and everything Edward actually says is jumped on by Grace.
She is constantly picking fault with him and looking for an argument. This is something that he just walks away from, it makes her more angry and annoyed when he does this and even gets violent towards him. Something again he shrugs off. Quite frankly Grace is a pretty nasty and self centred person. That is something that is highlighted more as the story goes on.
Having Jamie back home was the way Edward wanted to make his announcement of leaving her and I have to admit that I was not expecting the other woman side. I really did think he had just had enough of being made to feel like nothing at all. The thing with that was though because the way Grace treated him it was not surprising that he found comfort in someone else.
Jamie living alone also takes criticism from his mother and she is very hurtful towards him at times as well. He never ever deserved to made to feel like that and again she shows that she is self centred and does not care about anyone but herself. She didn’t actually believe Edward when he said he would leave and thought it was just something he was doing to scare her and make her treat him better. It had gone way past that stage, something that we did not see was the build up to this point.
That is what truly makes part of the films very difficult as I did not like or care about Grace at all. It feels harsh saying that but she was horrible to her husband for years and expected that he would just deal with it and put up with it forever? Edward was likeable enough and seemed actually scared of her. I actually doubted whether Angela was real either until a later scene, the thing is though even with him finding someone else it wasn’t made out to be a sex related issue. It was just a warm touch on his arm that made him feel needed again. Although the fact it had been going on for a year is something that probably makes you wonder why he couldn’t have done it sooner.
The turn it then takes in how Grace deals with it or lack of dealing with it was interesting but again difficult due to her nasty nature. Also the age of them is something that makes this different to say Marriage Story, generation changes and the way of life certainly has a huge impact on relationships and how long you are willing to be truly unhappy.
The biggest thing I took from the film was that always make sure you are as happy as you can possibly be. If the person who is supposed to love you makes you unhappy then you should not stay with them and just accept that as your reality. Whether that is the right approach or not I am unsure, but that is how it left me feeling.
The performances were fantastic and it was pretty clear that it had been adapted from a play due to the amazing dialogue and small number of characters. This was something that William Nicholson adapted from his own play and directed certainly a passion project, considering that he wrote the original play named The Retreat from Moscow based on his own experience with his parents ending their marriage after 33 years. Annette Bening was engaging as Grace, I was very impressed with her accent. Even though I truly disliked the character I felt as though that meant a very good performance. Bill Nighy certainly took on a very different type of role, I have been a big fan of his for many years now so I love seeing the more challenging roles he is taking on as he gets older. Josh O’Connor was absolutely fantastic as the tortured young man having to deal with the messed up relationship and that is something he does not have much look with himself. I really did enjoy his acting and how effortlessly he fit in with Nighy and Bening.