Love of My Life
An accomplished cast of familiar faces heads Love of My Life, Joan Carr-Wiggin’s lukewarm comedy-drama. Anna Chancellor stars as Grace, a British woman living in Canada. Following a cancer diagnosis, she has just five days before potentially fatal surgery. Refusing to accept the possibility, she returns to work as if nothing is wrong, brushing off her worried colleagues. That night she ponders which book to read, picking a short one.
Perhaps it is too soon for us to feel sorry for Grace, after all, we have only just met her. No matter, because the people surrounding her are so repellent that sympathy for her is automatic. Her unfaithful ex-husband Richard (John Hannah) turns up in the night to announce he will attempt to win her back, and proceeds to make her remaining days difficult and fractious by doing so. “She is the love of my life,” he whines repeatedly, yet it’s her life that is on the line, only nobody appears to care. Her adult daughters seem confusingly less than upset, instead choosing to argue over whose father she loves more. That these educated, privileged young women care more about proving who had the most “difficult” childhood rather than tending to their dying mother says a lot about the likeability of Grace’s immediate family. For a film that professes to know so much about love, many of the characters seem only concerned with themselves and their own issues and guilt, with the protagonist’s diagnosis merely a way of proving who is the better person. Even Richard’s foul new wife, dressed up unsubtly as the trashy other woman in a leopard print coat, turns up out of the blue to squabble with a probably dying woman about events of 25 years ago.
All this has the potential to be a space for a meditation on love, marriage and regret, but ultimately boils down to who Grace will sleep with last, or whether she should have visited Machu Picchu instead of Disneyland. Carr-Wiggin, whose filmography boasts a list of similar female-led dramas, appears less than confident in this familiar territory. The movie is unsure of which tone to take: a tender family saga or black comedy, and not one person in it acts like a mature, or even kind adult. The petty arguing leaves little room for anything else, and Grace’s smart cynicism seems to be used only for the director to parade her self-awareness about clichés. Only one later scene, in which she escapes to a coffee shop and opens up to a colleague, has any of the emotional depth and feeling a film with these themes should have. Instead of sympathising with Grace and her family, we can’t wait for her to leave the whole lot of them behind.
Love of My Life is released nationwide on 17th February 2017.
Watch the trailer for Love of My Life here: