David Hare's quiet masterpiece conveys a genuine sense of alienation and dislocation while covering a great deal of social and political ground. It never loses sight of the human story, though; the loneliness of the ch...展开aracters comes through in this startlingly intelligent drama which unfolds slowly, like a flower under time lapse photography. We watch the bloom, flowering and eventual withering of the characters' bodies and minds over several decades of social discord, emotional disappointments and lost dreams.
It's stunning how Hare constructs such an involving character study under the framework of a conventional mystery. The inexplicable suicide of a young man draws the viewer in but it's the characters that involve the viewer in a greater mystery of the heart; how did these people get to this point in their lives and the history of a nation? Hare delicately examines the spiritual decay of late-20th century British society and how it impacts all generations, from the haunted post-war generation to the alienated, disconnected contemporary youth. Ultimately both groups are unable to reach out to each other, trapped in the inescapable malaise which spares no-one.
Vanessa Redgrave carries this film. In her eyes a dazzling spectrum of emotions infuse her scenes with joy, heartbreak, hopelessness, elation, and everything else in between. It's a brilliantly written film but no words are necessary to understand the despair. It's all in her eyes.