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Monday, February 17, 2020


 (Liam Neeson & Lesley Manville)

A moving film about a year in the life of an ordinary couple from Northern Ireland who face the scourge of cancer. (Review: Patrick Compton. 9/10)

It’s good to see Liam Neeson take a break from vigilante fare to show his acting chops playing a loving husband supporting a wife with breast cancer.

This low-key Irish drama, scripted by Belfast playwright Owen McCafferty, is virtually a two-hander involving Tom (Neeson) and his wife Joan (a brilliant performance from Lesley Manville) who live in a small coastal town by the sea.

Their life is ordinary. They watch TV at home and gently bicker the days away in between their daily constitutional along the promenade. We learn that both have retired, following the tragic death of their daughter, to spend more time together.

The threat of the disease strikes almost immediately, as Joan discovers a lump in her breast while she takes a shower. The rest of the film, plot-wise, involves her treatment, the effects of chemotherapy, and those dreadful hours sitting in hospital waiting rooms waiting for news.

While the film casts a square eye on death, it also celebrates the living and their quiet heroism while also noting that life – love and squabbles and humour – goes on.

Aside from the main pairing, there are also impressive cameos from David Wilmot as a former teacher with terminal cancer and Amit Shah, his partner, who is devastated by his impending loss.

This is a film that could have been depressing because of its subject matter, but its attention to the smallest detail and nuance of behaviour under stress makes it a kind of celebration of the human race.

Sensitively directed by Lisa Barros D’Sa and Glenn Leyburn, Ordinary Love is a quiet, understated gem that loudly proclaims the strength of a couple’s love under stress.

Ordinary Love is showing at Gateway Mall. Patrick Compton