Hope Gap is now playing in selected Cinemas nationwide and on-demand via Curzon Home Cinema.
Films reflecting the pain of divorce are nothing new in cinema; in fact, in the last few years, we have seen both Marriage Story (2019) and A Separation (2011) tackle the pain of separation. However, stories involving older couples remain rare, the turmoil of divorce and separation a preserve of younger people, who often have young children in tow. Therefore, writer/director William Nicholson’s new film Hope Gap offers a rare glimpse into the trauma of separation following 29 years of marriage – the devastating loss of security and companionship surrounded by a need for escape and rebirth. Here the shroud of destructive convenience and comfort is lifted with a mother, father and son caught in its turbulent waves.
As the clock ticks down to their 29th wedding anniversary, Edward (Bill Nighy) and Grace (Annette Bening) sit comfortably in their coastal home, their lives wrapped in mundane conversations and memories of bringing up their son Jamie (Josh O’Connor). However, Jamie now lives in London, his trips back home few and far between as he builds his own life. His departure left an uncomfortable silence, with Grace forthright and confrontational, while Edward remained calm yet aloof in his emotions, the couple’s marriage a maze of silence and unspoken thoughts.
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As Jamie heads home for the weekend, this uncomfortable and tense atmosphere only escalates at the dinner table. But it is not until breakfast the following day that events suddenly and sharply turn. Here Edward announces to Jamie that he plans to leave Grace, his reason for a new partner. Shocked, Jamie asks whether his mother knows and is told she doesn’t, but Edward intends to tell her on her return from church that morning.
As the couple’s marriage slowly unravels, Nicholson reflects on his own experiences of family breakdown with a need to acknowledge and reflect upon the differing viewpoints of Grace, Edward and Jamie as their lives change forever. It is here where Hope Gap echoes the complexity of Andrew Haigh’s 45 Years as each side of the coin is given equal airtime. Here we see Bill Nighy’s disengaged, repressed yet free Edward butt up against Annette Bening’s sharp yet lonely Grace with performances full of emotion, dry humour, urgency and pain. But, it’s Josh O’ Conners Jamie who holds the movie together as he attempts to please both parents while considering his own relationships.
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In its final scenes, Hope Gap offers a glimmer of light as its poetic reflections on the birth and death of relationships cut through the drama. However, it is also clear that the journey to this point has changed all those involved forever as Jamie becomes the negotiator and healer and Grace searches for meaning and purpose. The love and security of all three adapting to a new, uncharted world.
Director: William Nicholson
Cast: Annette Bening, Bill Nighy, Josh O’Connor