A Long Way from Home
Millions of Brits diligently contribute to their pensions each month, saving for retirement and dreams of rest, relaxation and reward. Many will picture a meaningful existence, spent idling away the hours with hobbies, holidays and occasional adventure. British drama A Long Way from Home looks beyond these dreams to explore the flip side of growing old: loneliness, yearning and restlessness.
The film introduces Joseph (James Fox) and Brenda (Academy Award winner Brenda Fricker), an elderly couple living out their retirement in the South of France. Brenda clearly enjoys their daily routine, filling her days with French lessons, letter writing and crosswords. Joseph, meanwhile, is slowly wilting from the monotony of their life, hankering for not only the excitement of change, but also the need for purpose.
The couple resides in sun-soaked Nîmes, a former Roman town with impressive ruins. Sweeping shots of the landscape reveal it to be as beautiful as it is decayed, a mirror image of the lives of Joseph and Brenda. It is easy to imagine both the city and the couple as resplendent and vibrant, long before the erosion of time.
The duo’s predictable routine takes an unexpected turn, however, after meeting tourist Suzanne (Natalie Dormer) and her boyfriend Mark (Paul Nicholls). Joseph and Suzanne are quickly drawn to one another and a strange tale of deceit and longing unfolds.
Writer and director Virginia Gilbert’s feature debut is undeniably intriguing, but also creepy and unsettling: observing a 72-year-old man lurking in the shadows to stalk a woman less than half his age is genuinely chill-inducing. Equally unnerving is the camerawork, frequently moving in and out of focus, as if struggling to view the world through cataracts: an unwelcome manner further emphasising the theme of ageing.
Nicholls is slightly irritating as Suzanne’s work-obsessed boyfriend and Dormer unfortunately struggles to simulate a believable chemistry with Fox, who delivers a rousing portrayal of Joseph. Fricker is magnificent as his contented wife – a slightly fading woman who is still sharp enough to recognise her husband’s insecurities. Her stirring performance significantly elevates an otherwise flimsy plot.
Despite its weaknesses, A Long Way from Home bravely tackles a bold concept and highlights valid concerns about the realities of growing old.
A Long Way from Home is released nationwide on 6th December 2013.