Entertainment » Movies

Ordinary Love

by Roger Walker-Dack
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Friday Feb 14, 2020
'Ordinary Love'
'Ordinary Love'  

Tom and Joan, the couple around which "Ordinary Love" revolves, lead an ordinary life now that they are retired. As they keep themselves to themselves, they are almost invisible to the outside world. That is all about to change when the Joan discovers a lump that turns out to be cancerous.

Part of the reason they lead such a quiet life is their only daughter had died unexpectedly a few years back and they had never stopped grieving. The possibility of another death in the family puts an enormous strain on them, both individually and as a couple. There is one particular point when Joan is undergoing chemo and Tom shouts out "we're both going through this," to which Joan screams back "no, we're not!"

This story by filmmakers Lisa Barros D'Sa and Glenn Leyburn, from a script by Owen McCafferty, is essentially a quiet gentle take on how the lives of ordinary people deal with a major and potentially fatal scenario. Up until now, Tom and Joan's lives are so ordinary that, for instance, adding a different ingredient to soup one day becomes a major talking point. When Joan receives another bout of bad news from the hospital, on the drive home she is much more concerned about cooking the pork chops she had taken out of the freezer earlier that day.

They have very different reactions to the cancer diagnosis. Tom has problems confronting it head on and choses to go to the hospital cafeteria rather than hold Joan's hand during a chemo session. He rarely shows his anguish in public, waiting until he is alone at home.

A scared Joan, though, is determined to put a brave face on even though bouts of severe pain make her question whether she wants to stop the treatment completely. In hospital, she meets and befriends Peter (David Wilmott), a gay man who used to teach her daughter many years ago. His cancer is terminal and Steve (Amit Shah), his younger boyfriend, is having real trouble accepting the finality of the situation. Joan's conversations with Peter seem to help them both, as they can share this intimacy of actually dealing with their cancer that their respective partners never can.

Lesley Manville (one of Mike Leigh's regular actors and who more recently picked up an Oscar nomination for "Phantom Thread") gives a finely nuanced performance as Joan. Perfectly cast for the part, as she doesn't beg for our sympathy, which, anyway, we give so willingly as she takes her situation in stride probably better than most of us would.

At first, Neeson seems an odd fit as Tom. But as the story progresses and we see both his vulnerability and the chemistry he had with Joan, it's easy to change one's minds about him.

The subject matter will certainly not appeal to everyone, especially anyone who has ever come close to a similar health-scare scenario. Even though it is a compelling and beautifully executed movie, "Ordinary Love" makes for tough viewing at times; be sure to have a full box of tissues handy.

Ordinary Love

The true story of Christian music star Jeremy Camp and his journey of love and loss.


Runtime :: 91 mins
Release Date :: Feb 14, 2020
Language :: Silent
Country :: United Kingdom


Joan :: Lesley Manville
Tom :: Liam Neeson
Peter :: David Wilmot
Steve :: Amit Shah
Smoking Man :: Lalor Roddy
Glamorous Woman :: Maggie Cronin
Aggressive Man :: Desmond Edwards
Doctor :: Melanie Clark Pullen
Elderly Woman :: Stella McCusker
Surgeon :: Geraldine McAlinden


Director :: Glenn Leyburn
Screenwriter :: Owen McCafferty
Producer :: Brian Falconer
Producer :: David Holmes
Producer :: Piers Tempest
Executive Producer :: Phil Hunt
Executive Producer :: Compton Ross
Executive Producer :: Natascha Wharton
Executive Producer :: Stephen Kelliher
Executive Producer :: Jo Bamford
Executive Producer :: René Besson
Executive Producer :: Mark Huffam
Executive Producer :: Glenn Leyburn
Cinematographer :: Piers McGrail
Film Editor :: Nick Emerson
Original Music :: David Holmes
Original Music :: Brian Irvine
Production Design :: Nigel Pollock
Costume Designer :: Susan Scott
Casting :: Des Hamilton
Casting :: Georgia Topley

Roger Walker-Dack, a passionate cinephile, is a freelance writer, critic and broadcaster and the author/editor of three blogs. He divides his time between Miami Beach and Provincetown.

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