Complete A-Z list



Stars: Claire Danes, Vanessa Redgrave, Toni Collette, Natasha Richardson, Patrick Wilson, Hugh Dancy, Glenn Close, Meryl Streep, Mamie Gummer, Barry Bostwick

Director: Lajos Koltai

A laborious, languorous, but sometimes quite effective study of a dying woman, Ann (Redgrave), reflecting on the key event that changed her life. 'When I look back,' she tells her daughters (Collette, Richardson) 'I see waste...failure.'

As a girl, Ann (Danes) journeys to one of those Hamptons-style homes on the east coast, so familiar from The Great Gatsby, there to be maid of honour to her friend Lila (Gummer). She finds Lila still in love with Harris (Wilson), son of the family housekeeper and now a doctor. Lila's alcoholic brother Buddy (Dancy, the liveliest thing in the film) also seems attached to Harris, who quickly falls for the vivacious Ann.

Tragedy obviously looms here, although it arrives perhaps not quite in the way we expect.

Back in the present, Ann's daughters have their own headaches, especially Nina (Collette), who is pregnant, but unsure if she can commit to the father,

The end - thanks in part to a late appearance by Streep - is as moving as it should be, but the basic problems here are that the film is slow and we have little interest in its characters. With its vague echoes of Atonement, it's amazing that Redgrave should turn up as the dying central character in both.

Without exactly holding centre stage, Danes is competent and sings nicely, but Wilson's wooden performance comes nowhere near suggesting Harris' presumed charisma. Gummer is Streep's real-life daughter, but on this evidence has inherited little of her mother's talent.

Alan Frank

USA 2007. UK Distributor: Icon. Technicolor.
117 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 1.

Review date: 16 Sep 2007