Ordinary Love

Ordinary Love


In movies, love is often all rose petals, kisses in the rain and clichéd grand gestures. Not here. Instead, co-directors Lisa Barros D’Sa and Glenn Leyburn (who gave us 2012’s similarly stirring Good Vibrations) give us a tender drama which comes alive in its quietest, most undemonstrative moments.

A bit like the real thing.

Tom (Liam Neeson) and Joan (Lesley Manville) lead a simple life in retirement, following the death of their only child. Their lives are intentionally undramatic. Joan adding Worcester sauce to their evening soup is about as exciting as it gets. Then she notices a lump, and we all know what’s coming up.

This first screenplay from playwright Owen McCafferty isn’t entirely cliché-free – a graveside speech from Tom rings a little hollow – but it’s scrupulous in showing that love isn’t all sonnets and bouquets.

Through Manville and Neeson’s considered performances, we see the way that Tom and Joan’s love is expressed in small gestures – they forgive each other’s irritating habits, Joan allows that extra beer Tom shouldn’t have, Tom teases Joan while shaving her head after chemo with “I never really liked your hair.”

Don’t expect dramatic fireworks – very little happens narratively – but prepare for this quiet film to tiptoe into your heart.

You’ll find yourself hanging on Manville’s typically sensitive and ultimately heartbreaking performance (one which surely must get her some recognitition come awards season), and appreciating the tender side of Neeson, who is note-perfect throughout and leavers you wishing he was in this kind of movie more regularly.

It all adds up to a melancholic portrait of real love that lingers but never wallows in despair.

This is an extraordinary telling of a problem that will be all too familiar with many people in the audience. Away from the direction, screenwriting and acting, there’s also a lot to admore in the ambient score from David Holmes and Brian Irvine, and the cinematography from Piers McGrail.

Lisa Barros D’Sa and Glenn Leyburn

Feb 13

By Joseph Walsh | 13 Feb 2020


Ordinary Love
DirectorLisa Barros D'Sa, Glenn Leyburn
CastingLiam Neeson, Lesley Manville, Amit Shah