Four Weddings director’s early effort tackles difficult issues
Director: Mike Newell
Cinematography: Gabriel Beristain, Michael Coulter
Starring: Anthony Hopkins, Jim Broadbent, Harriet Walter, Frances Viner
Studio information: Home Vision, 90 minutes
Original theatrical release: 1986
Though he gained international renown as the director of lighter-than-air comedy Four Weddings and a Funeral, back in 1986 Mike Newell made an early mark in theatrical film with this dark tale of a divorcé who becomes consumed by a friend’s child-custody battle with his lesbian wife. While sometimes clunky, the film is notable for standout performances by Jim Broadbent (as the cowed buddy) and Anthony Hopkins, whose seething bitterness gives it a decidedly unsettling tone. As the characters wend their way through a variety of painful emotional battles, the film considers a host of prickly issues: What’s a marriage? How can love so quickly turn to hate? What makes a good father? The answers are never simple, and the film’s greatest virtue is that it doesn’t attempt to offer pat answers.