Portrait of a dysfunctional marriage with a crime story background
If it were not for the brilliant portrayal of a family in which the married couple are no longer in love with each other, this would be only slightly better than a normal crime story. The relationship has reached a stage in which even banal conversations between the parents of two boys and a young adult daughter are likely to end in ugly arguments. Tom Forrester, played by Michael Maloney, is too busy running his business to have enough time for his family. His wife, Jen, played by Jemma Redgrave, is a busy mother who is dissatisfied with her role, and regrets not having continued with her work. This relationship is the main story, and the two characters keep up a tension throughout the film between their dissatisfaction with their partner and their remaining hopes for happy family life.
Jen organises a house swap with the family of an Australian professor for the Christmas holidays. While they are staying in Australia, the professor, Charles Anderson, played by Jonathan Cake, steals various belongings from the house in England.
There are various twists in the tale, which keep up the interest in the criminal part of the story, and also increase the likelihood of the family pulling together through adversity.
The supporting cast were very good. Rose Trenchard, played by Phyllida Law, was a very credible typical older lady neighbour, and Lissa, the nineteen-year-old daughter of the family, played by Lara Belmont, was very convincing as a young adult slightly disturbed by the constant arguing of her parents.
Following the various twist and turns in the story, the film reaches a dramatic final scene in which the married couple play out a thoroughly logical and satisfying ending, and even this may not be what one is expecting.
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