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Hope Gap (12A)

Cast: Josh O'Connor, Annette Bening, Bill Nighy
Genre: Drama
Author(s): William Nicholson
Director: William Nicholson
Release Date: 28/08/2020
Running Time: 101mins
Country: UK
Year: 2019

Edward and his wife Grace have been married for almost 29 years. They have settled in a close-knit coastal community near a cove known as Hope Gap. The couple's son Jamie comes home for the weekend. Edward informs his tearful boy that he plans to leave Grace that day, forcing each member of the family to confront hard truths and accept that they have lived for far too long with their mistakes.


LondonNet Film Review
Hope Gap (12A)

Towards the end of writer-director William Nicholson’s portrait of a marriage in crisis, an embittered wife muses aloud, “That’s the thing about unhappiness. After a while it stops being interesting”. Hope Gap is evidently aware of its flaws. Adapted from Nicholson’s 1999 play The Retreat From Moscow, this dialogue-heavy three-hander struggles to escape the gathering dust of its stage origins despite the efforts of cinematographer Anna Valdez Hanks to swoop endlessly over the chalk cliffs of the south coast, where iridescent rock pools are exposed by a retreating tide….

Composer Alex Heffes’ unobtrusive, sombre orchestrations herald the gathering storm when a bookish, emotionally repressed husband prepares to abandon his outspoken spouse for a new life, wrung dry of bitterness and regret. Bill Nighy is well suited to the role of a stuttering academic, who can barely articulate his frustration. Annette Bening valiantly goes into battle with an English accent as his aggrieved wife and ends up losing the war for our sympathy by repeatedly drawing attention to her mannered delivery. Caught in the middle is God’s Own Country star Josh O’Connor, who lacks a compelling character arc outside of his perfunctory role as peacemaker between feuding parents.

The sun initially shines on secondary school history teacher Edward (Nighy) and wife Grace (Bening) as they casually orbit one other in the East Sussex coastal town of Seaford. He indulges a fascination with Napoleon’s 1812 invasion of Moscow flanked by toy soldiers on his desk while she pores over verses for her poetry anthology about the human condition. Their common bond is a son, Jamie (O’Connor), who lives in London and rarely visits. “He’s got his own life,” sighs Edward. “Well, why doesn’t it include us?” forcefully counters Grace.

One week shy of their 29th wedding anniversary, Edward secretly telephones Jamie to come home for the weekend. It is part of a cowardly plan to tell Grace that he intends to leave her for another woman (Sally Rogers) then rely on Jamie to pick up some of the slivers of the shattered marriage. On Sunday morning, while his wife is at mass, Edward confesses everything to his tearful son, who had hoped to return to London to resolve his relationship woes. “How long will it take? I don’t want to be here when you do it,” asks Jamie. “Give me half an hour,” wearily responds his old man.

Hope Gap fails to bridge a divide between us and the anguished characters. Nicholson crafts meaty dialogue including a zinging speech for Bening, which likens the breakdown of a marriage to bloodless murder. While his carefully crafted words land with precision, the raw emotions behind them are little more than glancing blows. Love hurts much more than this.

– Kim Hu

London Cinemas Showing Hope Gap

From: Friday 18th September
To: Thursday 24th September

HMV Curzon Cinema

Fri/Sat/Mon-Thu 13:20; Sun 12:50

JW3 Cinema

Tue 20:45; Thu 14:45

Olympic Studios

Fri 17:20; Mon 17:50; Wed 14:00; Thu 17:00

From: Friday 25th September
To: Thursday 1st October

No cinema infomation at the moment

UK and Irish Cinemas Showing Hope Gap

From: Friday 18th September
To: Thursday 24th September

Broadway Cinema & Theatre

Fri 14:00; Mon-Thu 17:15

Everyman Cardiff

Tue 16:15; Wed 17:00

Everyman Lincoln

Mon 14:45; Thu 14:00

Parkway Cinema

Fri 14:40; Thu 20:25

Picturehouse Uckfield

Fri/Mon 17:00; Sat 17:15; Sun 15:00; Wed 16:45; Thu 14:00

Radway Cinema

Fri/Sat/Mon-Thu 11:00 (Wed) 16:25

The Dukes

Fri-Sun/Tue 12:30

The Light Cinema, Thetford

Mon 14:00; Wed 13:45

From: Friday 25th September
To: Thursday 1st October

No cinema infomation at the moment