Coming to theatres from directors Lisa Barros D’Sa, Glenn Leyburn and Bleeker Street is the story of the unexpected bumps in a couple’s life of ORDINARY LOVE.
Joan (Lesley Manville) and Tom (Liam Neeson) have settled into a life that is comfortable for them both. Their routine includes a brisk walk, shopping, television time and humor that is easy for this couple. The comfortable life is interrupted when Joan discovers a lump in her breast.
Keeping everything easy in conversation until they know something more, Joan and Tom continue with their life. When the results are not what they were hoping, the life they had been sharing becomes a test on everything they had been holding on to.
Early into her treatment, Joan meets Peter (David Wilmot) who is a teacher. Now Joan feels a kinship to someone who understands what having cancer brings out in emotions. Spending time in the cafeteria during Joan’s treatments, Tom meets Peter’s partner Steve (Amit Shah) and finds the same kinship of having someone you love living in fear.
As the treatment progresses so does the tension between two people who truly love one another because spending years together with a history.
Manville as Joan is a woman who will forever have a place in my heart. This film brings a very realistic look at the fear, anxiety and frustration that comes with the word ‘cancer’. Even more so for a woman when it is breast cancer. Every thought that came across her face I understood as will most women who have ever had to deal with this disease. From the moment Joan finds the lump to the very end of the film, I remembered that feeling of having no control of anything. Manville is stunning – period.
Neeson as Tom is a man who takes life one day at a time. He wit with Joan is something I couldn’t help but laugh at. Come on, who doesn’t want a partner who can match wits and bring out the best sarcasm. Coming to terms with Joan’s prognosis, he deals with the same feelings of fear, anxiety and frustration except his tact is to keep it inside to be the strong part of the partnership. Even superman can’t keep that up before emotions come to a head. The conversation with his daughter is nothing short of heartbreaking. Well, just when I couldn’t adore Neeson more he gives me reason too.
Wilmot as Peter shares his feelings with Joan, and it is only natural that the two strike up a friendship. Being brutally honest about their feelings is something each can’t do with their partner. Shah as Steve is lost, and Tom sees it from across the room which makes their friendship a bit of a life raft.
ORDINARY LOVE is almost an indescribably film because it is based in a subject matter that most people find uncomfortable. Yes, there are films that deal with cancer, but this is a raw and in-your-face look at what it looks like skin to skin. Cancer takes, and takes, and takes and takes until the lid of safety we all create in our lives is weakened to the point of explosion.
Tom and Joan have a comfortable life but that doesn’t mean there aren’t issues in the life history they share that have never been truly resolved or spoken of. This is also a time where Joan realizes things about herself that are eye opening (if cancer isn’t enough) and Tom also stretches his emotions to what seems like a dangerous place for this character.
Manville and Neeson carry this film from start to finish and they don’t slack at any point. What they give is a fantastic performance that I easily forgot was a performance. Perhaps it is because I have been in Joan’s shoes myself or perhaps, I felt she had a love with Tom that many of us didn’t have going through a difficult time.
So, what ORDINARY LOVE does for those who have experienced cancer, a reminder of what it means to survive and for those that have not experienced it, this is a film to experience how close this film truly is.
I adored Joan and Tom’s relationship in its simplicity and humor and as more of their story is revealed, you feel for this couple even more and become the outside cheerleader to push them toward healing.
In the end – love doesn’t give up.