Release Date: 2nd May 2003
Director: Thaddeus O’Sullivan
Writer: Rosamond Lehmann & Lucinda Coxon
Producer: Martin Pope
Executive Producer: Shebnem Askin, Steve Christian & Keith Evans
Runtime: 1hr 36mins
In 1934 after the death of her father, Madeleine, a proper and repressed well-off housewife, invites her free-spirited sister, Dinah, to stay with her and her husband Rickie in her elegant London home. The couple have a young son, Anthony. Madeleine has always been secretly jealous and resentful of Dinah, a raffish bohemian painter, who is the despair of her conservative sister and their mother, Mrs. Burkett. Madeleine at last contrives to get Dinah engaged to a respectable, well-off man. Dinah announces her engagement at a family dinner, but later that night Rickie, who has long harboured an attraction for her, tells her to end the engagement.
Rickie and Dinah fall in love and, during a New Year’s Day party, they become lovers. Rickie helps Dinah to settle in an apartment that becomes their love nest, but leave his marriage intact. Things get complicated when Dinah gets pregnant. She decides to leave London with her friend Bridie and await the birth and Rickie’s arrival in the south of England. During a snowstorm, Dinah gives birth to a stillborn daughter and almost losing her own life from blood loss due to complications during the birth. Rickie, on his way to reach her, suffers a car accident and arrives too late. Grief-stricken, Dinah turns Rickie away and ends their affair. Rickie becomes lost in despair, but tries to hide it (unsuccessfully) from Madeleine. Months later Madeline receives a letter in the mail from Bridie who writes of the affair, leading Madeleine to the realization of what had been going on for quite some time. Rickie is adamant that the affair is finished, but he is unapologetic. Eventually Rickie meets unexpectedly with Dinah. She has a nervous breakdown at a restaurant and Rickie, still in love with her, tells Madeleine that he is leaving her.
Things however, take a turn for the worse when Rickie collapses and is taken to the hospital, unknown to Dinah who is still home waiting for him. Dinah is prevented from seeing Rickie and is told by her mother and Madeleine that he has decided to return to his family, while they tell Rickie that she has gone back to France. Several more months pass and the lovers eventually meet again when Dinah is leaving the apartment that was being financed by Rickie, and he discovers that she had been there the entire time and not in France. Dinah, who is too hurt by things past, refuses to continue the affair and the lovers part for the last time.
During the war, Anthony, Rickie and Madeleine’s son dies in battle. Rickie is killed during an air raid, when he was going to claim a bracelet for Dinah that he had ordered from a jewellery store with the engraving: “And throughout all eternity, I forgive you and you forgive me”. The film ends with Madeleine and Dinah finally reconciled to the past and learning to forgive each other.
Helena Bonham Carter…as Dinah
Olivia Williams…as Madeleine
Paul Bettany…as Rickie
Eleanor Bron…as Mrs. Burkett
Alison Reid…as Bridie
Luke Newberry…as Anthony
Tom Ward…as Jack
Gillian Hanna…as Betty
Andrew Havill…as Charles
2003: British Independent Film Award for Best Performance by an Actress