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Out of the Cold

Out of the Cold

Thanks have to go to Armond for singling out Separate Lies, my new runner-up for “unwieldy, mid-size, unloved, unwatched movie of the year” (Polanski’s Oliver Twist is the sure category winner). I can’t remember the last time I saw a movie about infidelity between adults where those affected by it actually dealt with it like…adults (remember last year’s grotesquerie Closer?). The scenes between Tom Wilkinson and Emily Watson (I love her so much I followed her to Metroland and am glad this didn’t slip by) following her revelation are shot through with a kind of wry, hesitant, tenderness in the face of possible redemption that astounds, at least until you’re leveled by her matter-of-fact declaration that she has not, and will not give up her lover (a wonderfully dissipated Rupert Everett). Are the refined qualities of Fellowes’s script an attempt to probe around the stiff upper lips of the British bourgeoisie, or does it merely seem that way because we’re unused to watching films populated by people who react in ways that we might as well? For the most part Wilkerson and Watson own this picture of domestic strife so thoroughly that Fellowes’s timidity with the camera (thanks for the crane up on the finale, Jules) and his backbend cramming of two plots (the other is a tawdry, fairly obvious murder thing) into 87 minutes is more than forgivable. Like Twist, this is a work made by someone not interested in leaving an overt signature on every frame, but rather in putting together a movie, something anyone who cares about film should make some time for.

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