Sharon Maguire :: UK :: 2008 :: 1h36
A young woman (Michelle Williams) is trapped in an empty marriage tucked away in an ugly apartment block in London. Her pride and joy in her grey existence is her 4-year-old son. One day, as the two of them are at the football match, she seduces a slick journalist Jasper (Ewan McGregor) in the local pub. As fate would have it, they are locked in a lovers embrace, with the football match raging on behind them on TV, when the stadium going up in flames with a series of explosions. Her husband and son are both killed in the terrorist attack, leaving her broken and alone.
If you are now thinking that a film about the aftermath of a major terrorist attack from the director of Brigit Jones’ Diary sounds like a recipe for disaster, then you are partly right. But it is not bad for the reason you might think. The film is, for the most part, an emotional roller-coaster – you could be crying your way through most of it. But not because of her grieving for her lost family. The bombs are just the beginning – she still has to endure a full load of unlikely events in the hour to come. She understandably loses it along the way as the story becomes so over-dramatised that it is just ridiculous (especially when you run the story back in your head afterwards).
Towards the end she enters a phase of grief hallucination and reconciliation with life. As the movie is neither funny nor exciting, this should have been the route to take all along. Concentrating on the mourning of the young mother, and perhaps even throwing in some guilt towards her semi-estranged husband. Her husband is just gone with his death. He is not missed nor is there any regret for his disappearance. Even for a semi-estranged husband this sounds a little harsh – she did worry about him, after all, so she must have felt something. It is also curious that they have no family, or friends who drop by to comfort her. A lonely marriage must have pushed them into some kind of a social circle, or a hobby, or at least the occasional phone call with their mothers. Was their life really that lonely.
The movie is clearly intended as a pamphlet against terrorism, by showing the human cost at the level of ordinary people. It also takes the time to “explain” the resilience of London in a voice-over. It is a little desperate to save a movie through nationalism, but can actually be fit in here, although it could have been better prepared, by, for instance, by making her a more integral part of London. This is no masterpiece, nor an entertainment jewel, and can easily be missed altogether. A pity, because it does have some potential.
NB French release date unknown