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Critics Review
Ordinary Love movie review: Liam Neeson, Lesley Manville soar in a tale of resilience and love

Ordinary Love is a quiet and thoughtful mood piece that celebrates love, the kind that is “like oatmeal, it sustains you.”

3.5
Pratishruti Ganguly
Jan 07, 2022
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Synopsis:

Tom and Joan have been married for a long time. They lead a quiet life of contentment until one day, Joan is diagnosed with breast cancer. As her treatment begins, the fears of losing Joan loom large over Tom.

Review:

There's a fierce sense of hopefulness that reverberates through Ordinary Love, Liam Neeson and Lesley Manville starrer drama, which is now streaming on BookMyShow stream. A kind of optimism that only comes from experiencing loss. There is universality in pain, of losing someone you love, but also in hoping, against hope, that one morning, everything will turn out just fine. All one has to do is hang in there. 

Neeson and Manville play Tom and Joan, an aged married couple, who have trodden the path of companionship for many years to now find comfort in the mundane and speak in silences. They take power walks together every day, go grocery shopping and bicker about traffic.

Until one day, Joan finds a lump under her left breast while taking a shower. The diagnosis reveals she has breast cancer.

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Ordinary Love is a story of an entire year, earmarked by two Christmases, that guides viewers through the brutal process of blood tests, medical appointments, mammograms biopsy and chemotherapy sessions — and the impact it has on Joan, as the one undergoing the process, as well as Tom, watching helplessly from the sidelines.

It is almost impossible to not ugly cry while watching Ordinary Love, but the film is anything but a melodramatic tearjerker. The processes Joan undergoes are reproduced with an acute authenticity without becoming overwhelming. There is wry humour at the bleakest of moments, and there are terminal cancer patients living life on their own terms.

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But the film is not a documentary on breast cancer. It is about how incredibly isolating, traumatic and painful cancer is. Historically, women’s beauty has been associated with their hair and breasts, so the trauma of the disease impacting one’s physical appearance is doubled in women.

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Manville wrings every emotion out of her to authentically bring to life Joan’s agony. The film is equally empathetic to Tom and his helplessness. Through his frustrations and outbursts, the film highlights that no matter how well-meaning or eager your loved ones may be to help or alleviate the pain, there is nothing one can really do.

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Filmmakers Lisa Barros D’Sa and Glenn Leyburn elevate the narrative with personal and intimate observations about the shared experiences of pain. Thus, Joan finds an unlikely friend in her late daughter’s schoolteacher, Peter, who is also suffering from terminal cancer. Likewise, Tom and Peter’s husband bond over their insecurities of losing the most, and possibly the only important person in their lives.

Like its sexagenarian protagonists, Ordinary Love is a quiet, piercingly thoughtful movie. The vigour lies in the protagonists’ eyes, that twinkle with an impish charm when they hold hands. The humour is understated, the dialogues are scanty, and the fears are universal.

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Verdict:

Wholesome dramas, be it about finding love or direction in life or overcoming adversities, have a sizable market. Understandably so, since many watch content as a means to escape the crippling fear of uncertainties in a crumbling world. Even if the premise sounds bleak,

Ordinary Love is, as the title puts it, about ordinary love – and its resilience against the crushing blows of life. It’s the kind of love that is like oatmeat, “it sustains you.”


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