There’s a palate-cleansing lucidity and sobriety to this interesting movie, a narrative triptych, showing three intimate scenes of English (and German) life, from 1944, 1982 and 1996: snapshots of home-front life influenced by war, notionally separate scenarios but interconnected by an unstressed generational thread.
It is adapted from the Oxford Stage Company play by Robert Holman – who has co-written the screenplay – and directed by Dominic Dromgoole, a former artistic director of Shakespeare’s Globe, London who recently produced Simon Amstell’s movie Benjamin.
The action takes us first to Kent towards the end of the war. A gay man befriends a conscientious objector and has a conversation with him in which there is a tiny erotic charge; then in the middle of the Falklands war, a naval officer visits a woman in Redcar to bring the terrible news of her son’s death; then in the Black Forest, a Welsh soldier, apparently awol from his posting in Germany, and in charge of a deeply troubled adopted young son, chances across a middle-aged woman painting in the woodland – a woman whose calm wisdom is to change their lives.
The film is presented with a theatrical simplicity: contrived and stylised in some ways, but presented with refreshing seriousness. Perhaps the most successful is the central part in which May (Barbara Marten) gets the awful news from Geoffrey (Geoffrey Streatfeild) and their conversation is fraught with tensions and complications.
My least favourite is the final playlet, which is angrier and shoutier and achieves less impact with more effort, though it is always well acted. There is a delicate, melancholy piano score from Stephen Warbeck. An unusual, thoughtful piece of work.