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Joan and Tom have been married for many years. There is an ease to their relationship which only comes from spending a life time together and a depth of love which expresses itself through tenderness and humour in equal part. When Joan is unexpectedly diagnosed with breast cancer, the course of her treatment shines a light on their relationship as they are faced with the challenges that lie ahead and the prospect of what might happen if something were to happen to Joan.
In its push to depict such a colourless existence, the film's biggest strength also turns out to be its biggest weakness; these people and their lives are so ordinary - and so thinly-drawn - that you might come away wondering whether, cancer story aside, they deserved a film to begin with.
The movie is written by Owen McCafferty and acted with impeccable intelligence and sensitivity by Lesley Manville and Liam Neeson. And although there are some slightly stereotypical weepie moments, the film has a strong sense of emotional purpose and Manville and Neeson – perhaps especially Manville – bring conviction and force.
As quiet and thoughtfully composed as a Dutch master's painting, Ordinary Love uses clean lines and well observed tiny details to build up a deeply moving, nuanced portrait of a marriage under strain after a cancer diagnosis.