Pamela Connellan


Hope Gap shows what can happen when a marriage ends

Hope Gap shows what can happen when a marriage ends

A couple's visit with their son in the quaint seaside town of Seaford in England, takes a dramatic turn when the father tells him he plans on leaving his mother.

As well-trodden as this subject might be, there’s still something terribly compelling about watching the end of a marriage play out on screen. Annette Bening plays the woman whose life crumbles as her husband leaves her and Bill Nighy plays the husband. Josh O'Connor plays the couple's son.

This drama is tastefully restrained to a fault in a particularly British manner. Veteran screenwriter William Nicholson, a two-time Oscar nominee, based the film on his Tony-nominated play The Retreat from Moscow – shows his talents here.

The title of the film was inspired by Napoleon’s invasion of—and messy withdrawal from—the Russian city, a subject which fascinates Nighy’s character and serves as an obvious metaphor for the destruction of his own marriage.

It’s obvious we have all the makings of a genuine story here in Hope Gap but some reviewers have said the film doesn't have the emotional depth for the areas being covered.

As well, Annette Bening has come in for some criticism about her ill-fitting British accent. But there are glimmers of insight along the way, particularly in how Grace (Bening’s character) compares a divorce to a murder and how spurned women are devalued in comparison with widows.

Throughout the story, we're served up some stunning coastal vistas from Seaford which is close to Brighton in southern England. Hope Gap is worth it if just for these vistas and the great performances from Nighy and Bening.

Hope Gap is streaming now on Amazon Prime.

Photo: Amazon Prime