Starring: Liam Neeson, Lesley Manville, David Wilmot
Director: Lisa Barros D’Sa, Glenn Leyburn
Running Time: 92 mins
Ordinary Love is a British film about the lives of a married couple as they face an immense challenge after the wife’s breast cancer diagnosis.
Films like Ordinary Love are wonderful proof of the immeasurable power of calm, reserved storytelling. The tale of a married couple encountering one of the greatest trials of their life together, the film is entirely engrossing, moving and heartfelt from beginning to end, but most importantly never strays even close to melodrama that would be so easy with its story, and features two wonderfully reserved, genuine lead performances from Liam Neeson and Lesley Manville.
Let’s start on that point, because marital dramas are more often than not a place for some of the more mature, genuine storytelling in the romantic genre. Without the anxious, chaotic energy of teen romance, and not featuring the high drama of divorce dramas, stories that look at the day-to-day lives of a stable, intimate couple still manage to achieve riveting emotional intrigue even where it may not seem obvious at first.
Liam Neeson and Lesley Manville play Tom and Joan, a couple married for decades that have been through thick and thin together, and now in their older age are as close as ever. But as they face the challenge of fighting Joan’s breast cancer, cracks begin to show, but the true nature of their relationship and intimacy becomes clearer than ever.
That’s where Ordinary Love really hits home, as it shies away from bringing a frankly more predictable story looking at the impact of fighting cancer on a marriage, and instead looks at how the nature of a marriage plays a role in beating cancer, and staying strong through the entire ordeal. That doesn’t mean their love makes everything plain sailing, but it does bring such deep strength to their relationship at every moment, and despite cracks and tensions that are natural in any marriage, the core foundations of their love never falter.
The film is a gorgeous and wonderfully heartfelt depiction of the strength of a relationship, and to an extent deep, caring love and affection. That might sound a little cheesy, but Ordinary Love is such a genuine and down-to-earth film that it’s so easy to appreciate its message about how a couple with such familiarity and comfort can fight through anything, no matter how difficult it is and how close things may seem to going sour.
It’s not an easy watch, but the fact that the film stays away from melodrama or even a heavy-going, exhausting depiction of fighting cancer is really striking. It still absolutely gives a frank, honest and realistic portrayal of the devastating realities of the disease and the challenges that come with it for people in all manners, but the fact that the focus always shifts back to the strength of the couple and their relationship is really moving to see.
Neeson and Manville are wonderful together, with such natural and calm chemistry that feels exactly like a long-term married couple would. Couple that with a screenplay that’s full of equally natural dialogue and depictions of normal, day-to-day life, and Ordinary Love proves to be a deeply enthralling, genuine and relatable watch.
Overall, I was really impressed by this film. With riveting, down-to-earth and moving drama from beginning to end, Ordinary Love provides a uniquely wonderful look at the strength of a relationship in the face of immense difficulty, and with two perfect performances and a beautifully natural, honest writing and direction, the film is an excellent watch throughout, and that’s why I’m giving it a 7.7.