Separate Lies is a great vehicle for Tom Wilkinson who is exceptional as James Manning, a successful solicitor in London, totally unaware that his wife Anne, portrayed by Emily Watson, feels neglected as he speaks to her only to correct her or to point out her failings.
This is the perfect premise for the ensuing events during which Anne begins an affair with newcomer to the village, Bill Bule (Rupert Everett). Prior to a party given by Anne and James, a bicyclist is killed on the road, supposedly by a hit-and-run drunk driver. The victim is the husband of Maggie, Anne’s housekeeper.
Circumstances indicate to James that the perpetrator of the hit-and-run accident is none other than Bill Bule. He mentions his suspicions to Anne, after which Anne reveals to James that she has been having an affair with Bill and would rather not have him mention his suspicions to the police.
Rather than spoil the film for the reader, suffice it to say that additional revelations convince James that they should plead ignorance of the circumstances surrounding the fatal accident. The decision, of course, takes its toll on Anne as well as on James.
Tom Wilkinson is called upon frequently these days to portray the middle-aged husband caught up in his work to the consternation of his wife. Emily Watson is one of the more popular English actresses who is able to project a variety of personalities on screen, allowing the viewer to forget that he is watching Emily Watson. The film is an adaptation of Nigel Balchin’s bestseller “A Way Through the Wood.”
At his first introduction, we are tempted to dislike Bill Bule (Rupert Everett) and he does nothing to change this first impression. A playboy spoiled by his benevolent father seems to have no redeeming characteristics and one wonders why Anne would be attracted to him in the first place, except for her lack of fulfillment in her marriage.
There are some breathtaking scenes of both London and Paris as well as the English countryside which takes our mind off the depressing events transpiring before our eyes.
I enjoyed the film, as much for its surprises as for the excellent acting, particularly by Tom Wilkinson. Emily Watson is also to be complimented on her lack of vanity as she drifts into carelessness brought on by circumstances for which she holds responsibility. The film was worth the hour and a half which is needed to see it through to its ambiguous conclusion.
Source: Separate Lies (2005)