Great movie, but don’t try this at home.
I really enjoyed this movie, and watched it a second time. Rebecca Hall and Francois Arnaud were excellent in their roles. The chemistry between Anna (Hall) and Dane (Arnaud) was really great – but that is not what made the movie great. It only made Anna’s decision at the end more difficult and courageous. Anna and Will have been together since they were old enough to date, and she is now 30. Neither have experienced any kind of romantic relationship outside of this one, and they are about to settle into a home that Will has remodeled and get married. Anna is nearing completion of her thesis in the history of music, and on her way to an academic career. Then, at her 30th birthday celebration the lover of her gay brother suggests that they should experience some outside sex before settling down together for ever. “There is no risk, you love each other” he says convincingly. Will first takes the initiative in suggesting they try it but Anna gets involved in the first outside encounter with a musician/composer named Dane. Meanwhile, Will who is not nearly as interesting or charming as Anna, stumbles into an evening with a divorcee (Lydia) who comes to his shop and lures him into her home. Anna and Dane have wonderful sexual chemistry, but Will and Lydia not so much. Ok – SPOILERS AHEAD! Anna has a second affair, a quick encounter with the owner of an art gallery, but it goes no where because he is cheating on his wife, whereas Anna has permission to have outside sex. Will gets propositioned by a bar maid, and again has some less than satisfying sex. “Is that it?”she asked when the short romp is over. Clearly, Anna is much more flexible, much more independent, and more able to enjoy the experience with others than Will, whose dependency on Anna and his relationship with her now starts to show. Some of the low ratings were due to it being a cliché ending. No, it was not cliché. The cliché would have been for them to realize they were truly in love, didn’t want anyone else, and stayed together after playing with, and hurting, others. That did not happen. In fact, I thought the ending that it did have is what made it a great movie. Anna first rejects Dane’s invitation to enter a dating relationship, then she changes her mind about accepting Will’s almost plaintive proposal for marriage. That is not the happy ever after cliché. Will Anna go back to Dane, and enter a relationship with him? I don’t think so, or certainly not a monogamous one immediately. I don’t think she wanted another commitment at that time. Her professor challenged her about her thesis work “what do you want? Get it together.” The way I interpret the ending is that Anna realizes she has never explored her own wants. She has drifted along with Will, indeed a very nice guy and who has a successful business and truly does love her. By encouraging her to play piano again, Dane has made her realize that she may have abandoned that dream too soon. Not only is she questioning a life and family with Will, but she is questioning whether she wants an academic career teaching music history. She has found independence and wants to create and explore her own dreams rather than to wrap her life around that of another man. She was by far stronger and more adaptable than Will, and probably even Dane. She was by far my favorite character in the movie, and Rachel Hall portrayed it brilliantly. In the background of this, there is also the breakup of her brother with his gay lover over the issue of having a child. It was quite a captivating and intense movie about the fragility of love and of relationships when the partners don’t grow in the same direction.