arrival of Sophie (Felicity Jones), an 18 year old British piano
student, at the home of Keith and Megan Reynolds (Guy Pearce and Amy
Ryan) in upstate New York sets off fireworks in what seemed on the
outside a happy, placid family.
Director Drake Doremus (who also has a writing credit with Ben York
Jones) has created a terrific examination of the intimacies of a
marriage, the differing feelings and ambitions of a husband and wife,
the insecurities of a teenaged daughter, and a May-September romance
without being the least bit hackneyed.
entire cast is superb. But in the case of Jones, the film shows what a
difference a brilliant director can make. Jones was imminently
forgettable as Charles Dickens’ young mistress in her recent The
Invisible Woman, a movie whose failure can be attributed directly to
the inept directing of Ralph Fiennes. There wasn’t an ounce of chemistry
between Jones and Fiennes (who also starred). After seeing Breathe
In, and how Jones appears as an irresistible femme fatale, I
thought how much better ‘Woman would have been with a director of
Doremus’ talent. The screen sparkles with the sexual tension between
Keith and Sophie as the film progresses.
Although Jones is 30 years old, she plays an 18 year-old with cool
aplomb. Her subdued, seething sexiness and the slow way she attracts the
affection of Keith, her elder by some two decades at least, are what
really make this movie so fascinating.
be outdone is Amy Ryan as a wife who constantly downplays her husband’s
burning ambition to be a cellist in an orchestra in New York City
instead of a high school music teacher in Upstate New York. Pearce is
equally effective as the husband with a dream that his wife doesn’t
Sophie arrives with similar problems of lack of respect for what she
wants and does, and realizes that Keith is in the same quandary, the
emotional similarity gives an added dimension to the physical
had the cast constantly improvising throughout the shoot, wanting to
capture, in his words, “the grayness of what love really means and who
you are really supposed to be with.”
who was born in England but raised in Australia so had to master an
American accent, especially liked Doremus’ unique way of directing,
saying, “It was a wonderful experience of listening and being in the
moment, which as an actor is what we always want. Usually, you’ve got a
director saying the scene is supposed to last for a minute and a half
and you need to say your line within the first ten seconds. Drake would
roll the camera for twenty minutes and would go back and do another take
if it didn’t feel truthful.”
Reynolds’ 18-year-old daughter, Lauren, is played by Mackenzie Davis in
her debut, and she hits a home run. Her B-story shows her confronting a
similar problem facing the other three members of the cast. She expertly
captures the pain and is a wonderful addition to the main story.
probably won’t see this film on the awards schedule, but this will be on
my list of best films of the year.