First Hit: There was something not real, or lacking engagement about or between these characters that left me uninterested.
There was a bit of noise about this film in the press. The idea of two women, friends for life, having two sons with whom they each have intimate physical relations is thought provoking. How did these mothers allow intimacy with their best friend's son?
That's what the film attempts to address. For me I was anticipating the moment when the intimate line was crossed and by whom. However, this is exactly what didn’t work for me. I didn’t see the pre-moment buildup that would have been needed for any of the characters to move into this sort of intimacy.
The film did a good job of showing the connection between the two mothers Lil (Naomi Watts) and Roz (Robin Wright) as they grew up together from young kids into adulthood. Their respective sons Ian (Xavier Samuel) and Tom (James Frecheville) are also best friends and grew up together as well.
The idyllic beach life on the coast to Australia adds to the surreal adventure this film attempts to take the audience on, actually subtracts from the intensity of the situation when Ian decides to reach out to Roz for affection.
Watts is beautiful and effective as a mother, but as Tom’s lover it didn’t quite work. I didn’t see the spark and alluring fire. Wright was gorgeous and seemed distanced from her husband as well as her son although there was an emotional flicker as Ian approached her for affection. Samuel was the person who most pushed this film and subject the most. His aching over his father’s loss and movement to be loved emotionally and physically by Wright was the films strongest character. Frecheville seemed to have more of a laissez faire attitude towards his intimacy to his best friends wife, but interestingly enough, he was the one to cement them all in the end. Christopher Hampton wrote the screen play that came from Doris Lessing’s novel. I don’t think there were enough story creating scenes to develop what could have been a strong film of what some would call taboo behavior. Anne Fontaine did well with what she had.
Overall: An interesting attempt to broach a controversial subject but it ended up being very vanilla.