After the sweeping, noble scale of Gandhi (1982) and Cry Freedom (1987), Richard Attenborough directed this more intimate drama which remains one of his best pictures to date.
Based on William Nicholson’s play, it charts the tragic love affair between the author CS Lewis, creator of the Narnia Chronicles, and Joy Gresham, an American poet.
Anthony Hopkins and Debra Winger give perfect performances. The tone is set by Winger’s entrance into Oxford’s Randolph Hotel: “Anyone here named Loowis?” she rasps – upsetting the decorum of academe and rattling Hopkins’s teacup – and thereafter, Hopkins’s life as an emotionally frigid bachelor is transformed.
With its immaculate 1950s setting, the film creates a totally convincing world and Attenborough gets beneath the skin of his characters like never before.
CS “Jack” Lewis