Virginia Gilbert directs A Long Way from Home, a graceful dramatic feature based on her own short story of the same. Gilbert provides us with a rich palette of fascinating characters and breathtaking locations in this often touching and hugely charming tale of desire in old age.
Long married couple Joseph (James Fox) and Brenda (Brenda Fricker) have retired to the French town of Nimes and live quiet, routine lives. However, Joseph is becoming restless in the banality of this routine – something that is challenged by the arrival of vibrant young couple, Suzanne (Natalie Dormer) and Mark (Paul Nicholls).
Gilbert’s feature is a graceful look at desire in old age – seen through Joseph’s gradual infatuation by the young Suzanne. However, this is a desire for an emotional connection and sense of enchantment – which Joseph appears to recall (and miss) from his earlier years with Brenda. Nimes makes a staggeringly beautiful backdrop for Gilbert’s feature, seamlessly paralleling Joseph’s whimsical and enchanted view of Suzanne. The cities ancient temples, vineyards and sun-drenched streets add an elegant sense of the picturesque to A Long Way From Home.
The feature provides us with a palette of well-crafted central characters, magnificently played by the film’s key players. James Fox provides a thoroughly impressive leading turn as Joseph, a performance which contains glimpses of sadness behind his refined ‘classically British’ demeanour. The actor showcases Joseph’s transformation as a result of the arrival of Suzanne, showcasing a performance full of warmth – yet shadows of something slightly sinister as Joseph’s looks can occasional verge on leers. These ultimately never feel too threatening thanks to the unspoken chemistry between Fox and Fricker – a dynamic which captures a long-married couple who deeply love each other.
Fricker is equally excellent presenting us with a woman who appears slightly scatter-brained yet remains fully in control in a crisis – showcased in a somewhat bizarre sequence where Brenda breaks a dying cat’s neck. Brenda’s gradual suspicions over Joseph’s fidelity adds further dramatic interest into A Long Way From Home. Natalie Dormer is vibrant and engaging as Suzanne, who alongside Paul Nicholls’ Mark captures the themes of young love and the initial warmth of a relationship.
A Long Way From Home is a graceful and touching look at relationships in both their early stages and in later-life. Stunning settings and sublime performances ensure that Gilbert’s feature is a charming and engaging watch.
Release Date: 30th June 2013(EIFF)
Stars: James Fox, Brenda Fricker ,Natalie Dormer, Paul Nicholls
Director: Virginia Gilbert