Reviewed May 17, 2012
With one emotional catastrophe after another, this is an authentic portrait of all the ways things can go wrong and awkward, and how painful these situations are when they mount up. The movie gravitates with increasing speed around the theme of alienation. Its satellite is the feeling of claustrophobia.
While visually warm and soft, reflective surfaces - including dark windows - are always particularly solid, reminding of a glass prison, and the reality they reflect always seems twisted in some way. Whenever you can see through a window to the outside, the exterior scenery is blurred or in blinding lights. This is something a movie is be better equipped to portray than a theatre play.
The movie's flaws are that it lets itself slip into melodrama sometimes, and the nonlinear structure would be easier to digest in a novel. It isn't quite that confusing but it might take a second viewing for the story to make sense - or at least don't watch it when you're tired, like I did.
The performances are splendid all around. Rachel Weisz is the indubitable star, and at the start of the movie she seems so transformed that she doesn't even look like herself. She became much more recognisable to me as the film went on though.
And it was an absolute joy to see Barbara Jefford again, this time as the stinging mother-in-law. Her last performance had been in 1999 in The Ninth Gate as Baroness Kessler, so it was delightful to see her come back this time as a much more acidic, almost neurotic, maddening matron of propriety.
In closing, it's just a beautiful piece of work, and I'm surprised it didn't get higher ratings. It tries to be more lovely than it is tragic, and I think it manages.