Coming to DVD from writer/director William Nicholson and Roadside Attractions comes a film that examines long time love and how life can abruptly change at any age living in HOPE GAP.
Grace (Annette Bening) and Edward (Bill Nighy) have been married for almost thirty years and have s son Jamie (Josh O’Connor). Grace is very outspoken and has a quick wit that she doesn’t hide while Edward is more the quiet side of the marriage but equally quick with the wit. Living in the small town of Hope Gap with the sea at their back door, it has been a life together.
That is until Edward decides to confess that he no longer wishes to be in the marriage. Grace is absolutely stunned, especially since Edward told son Jamie before discussing it with her. With his bags already packed, he slides out the door of their home.
Grace tries to keep her life together because there was nothing, in her mind, that pointed to such a thing happening between them. She saw their life as challenging, interesting and never saw their behaviors as anything but what comes with being together for so long. Edward made his feelings clear, but she still cannot believe what is happening.
Son Jamie is trying to be there for his mother and discovers that she is having difficulty reconciling the life she knew with the life that she must begin over again. He also starts to share his feelings about life and Grace realizes that perhaps she is living to much in her own world.
Breaking out of her shell, she takes it day by day realizing that she, as a person, needs to sort out the anger, fear and how her idea of relationships must change – including with her son.
Bening as Grace is absolutely stunning, and I couldn’t take my eyes off of her performance. On a personal level her wit is something I can relate to so part of me totally understood her and the way she responded to people. Portraying Grace, Benning gives her a unique style of course but slowly it becomes clear that it is difficult for this character to grasp that after all the years of being married to Edward, being apart is incomprehensible – it just doesn’t happen in her world.
Nighy as Edward is a man that just cannot handle the confrontations with Grace that she sees as normal. When he confesses what has been happening and his feelings, even then there is a fear of everything that means. The scene in the lawyer’s office is an example of his inability to stand up to Grace when he just wants it to all go away. Guess he shouldn’t live in the same town with his ex eh? Nighy is an actor that I continue to see as lovely and only gives beautiful performances and in HOPE GAP, he cements that belief.
O’Connor as Jamie is the son caught in the middle of his parents. Understanding why his father wants to go, he equally understands his mother’s inability to grasp what is happening. Staying near Grace to help her through the adjustment, there also comes the most poignant scene on the shore where Jamie is shocked by the conversation he is having with Grace and it is one a son should never have to have with his mother. O’Connor does a superb job as the anchor in this story, the touchstone and the person who finds good in the midst of parental despair.
Other cast include Aiysha Hart as Jess, Ryan McKen as Dev, Joe Citro as Young Jamie, Nicholas Burns, Steven Pacey as Peter and Sally Rogers as Angela.
Roadside Attractions has, since it’s found in 2003, grossed over $300M and garnered nineteen Academy Award nominations. They have had critical and commercial hits such as MANCHESTER BY THE SEA, BEN IS BACK, BEATRIZ AT DINNER, HELLO MY NAME IS DORIS, WINTER’S BONE and THE COVER as well as so many others. For more information of what Roadside Attractions has to offer please visit www.roadsideattractions.com.
HOPE GAP is a beautifully told story of what happens when a couple must come to terms with the reality that the love that brought them together is no longer what can keep them together. There are plenty of films about couples who start over again but there are few films that portray the reality of when seniors divorce.
Staring a new life is difficult for anyone, but as a senior there is such a history between the characters Grace and Edward. For Grace it is a moment between being married to not being married and it is not something she can readily grasp not matter how much wit escapes her lips. Wiping away a 29-year marriage crushes her beliefs in family, love and relationships.
What it does is force the character of Grace to do is reexamine her life, including her relationship with son Jamie, and understand that anger just does not help her move on. Benning wraps Grace up in a barricade of sarcasm at times, but the barricade is not going to hold.
HOPE GAP is held up by three actors that do an amazing job of telling a story in such a way that you root for all three to find their peace in the midst of an emotional mess. Writer/director Nicholson based the story on his own parents 33-year marriage that ended.
In the end – life can change at any age!