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  • Amit ShahDavid Wilmot...
  • DramaRomance
  • Glenn LeyburnLisa Barros D'Sa
reviewed by
Yasmeen Mamdouh
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Ordinary Love: Taking the Extra Out of Extraordinary?‎

Love stories in movies are almost always painted as an extraordinary force, Driving incidents to form the image that a hopeless romantic would want to see; even if this image is delusional. What if all the extra is taken out, and we are just left with the ordinary? Will it still be worth watching?

Ordinary Love follows a longstanding married couple, Joan (Lesley Manville) and Tom (Liam Neeson), and their statically peaceful life together. Soon this life turns upside down when Joan is diagnosed with breast cancer, which is the beginning of the couple’s hardships.

The film’s plot is straightforward and basic, yet Ordinary Love’s secret weapon is that it does not glorify its characters, nor dramatise the events. Instead, it abides by its title, taking the audience through the ordinary life of a couple in a harsh situation; one that could happen to anybody.

Even when Joan’s condition gets worse, the film sticks to its realistic approach in such a brutal yet plausible manner, that has audiences wondering what they would do or say if they were in the same situation, rather than merely sympathising with the happenings of the film.

The film may seem boring to many, as the plot barely has any twists and turns, but the magic of the feature is in its dialogue. With constant loving and teasing banter, Joan and Tom reveal more and more of what it is like to be a longtime married couple in general, while making it their own special experience at the same time.

For the acting, Lesley Manville does an excellent job; she stays away from pitfalls, like playing the victim, or being too soppy. Instead, Manville’s performance was a perfect balance between expositional and restrained, to produce a very realistic take on a cancer patient character. Liam Neeson’s performance was just as powerful, with clever dodges of the “Mr Perfect” husband clichés, showing a very human character that can sometimes be callous or selfish. Manville and Neeson’s strong performances really made the movie the realistic depiction of a feature that it is.

Even though Ordinary Love may not be the most thrilling movie of all time, its realistic representation of human interaction is worth the watch.

Like This? Try

The Fault in Our Stars (2014), Phantom Thread (2017), Waves (2019).  

360 Tip

The opening film of the 2019 Cork International Film Festival.

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