Ann Lord (played by Vanessa Redgrave) is coming to the end of her life. Now in her seventies, she is in the final stages of an illness that has left her bed ridden. Her two daughters, Nina (by Toni Collette) and Constance (by Natasha Richardson) are at her side in her home in up-state New York. Her pain medication causes her to drift in and out of hallucinations of her younger days when, as Ann Grant (by Claire Danes) in her twenties, she met the love of her life Harris (by Patrick Wilson) at the wedding of her best friend Lila (by Mamie Gummer). She calls out to him many times but the girls have no idea what she is referring to, until Lila, now too in her seventies (by Meryl Streep) calls to see her and explains some of the mystery surrounding Harris, Lila’s brother Buddy (by Hugh Dancy) and the drama surrounding Lila’s wedding day. Nina and Constance both have their own life issues to deal with and through their anguish about their mother and what they learn about her, they manage to find new peace in their lives and courage to face their own futures.
This movie has a stunning ensemble cast, with appearances also by Glenn Close and Barry Bostwick as the young bride Lila’s parents. However, such a strong cast would promise a fabulous movie – even the plot offers an intriquing storyline. Perhaps I have totally missed something major here, but for me – unfortunately, this movie falls far short of the mark. The components are fragmented – there is no real alignment and overall the movie is dull. Several characters are redundant – Constance (Natasha Richardson), the Winterborns (Glenn Close and Barry Bostwick), particularly Mr Winterborn, are not really required – although it’s entertaining to watch Glenn Close in such a character. Once again, Hugh Dancy’s character Buddy offers much interest, but although he seems to try hard, on screen Buddy is superficial. Harris is supposed to be the great love of the movie but he is almost an invisible person and the young Anne and Lila are both not right, with no screen presence at all. Best performances are Vanessa Redgrave and Toni Collette. However, Redgrave does not look at all like a person reaching the final stages of a painful and difficult illness. My advice is, wait until this is on television – and then only if you need to fill in some time.
Made in 2007. Directed by Lajos Koltai