Directed by Sean Durkin
British Film Festival : 10-29 November
Screening at Palace Cinemas
Review by Sarah List
Rory O’Hara (Jude Law) is deeply embedded in the trading world of the 80s, which were a time of excess, living beyond your means and always wanting more. Living an idyllic life in New York State with his horse trainer American wife Allison (Carrie Coon), he convinces her that the time is right to move back to his native UK where his old boss (Arthur Davis, played by Michael Culkin) is clamouring for his return. Allison is reluctant – they have already moved four times in 10 years, looking for the next ‘big opportunity’. But Rory is extremely convincing and they arrive to their enormous estate in Surrey to more promises of horses, stables, independence and riches.
Things are all looking positive as the office welcomes Rory back with great excitement, and his hunted deal of a merger with a large American firm. Soon enough the cracks start to show, as at a dinner party, Davis reveals to Allison that Rory contacted him about returning – not the other way around. The reveal of this deception begins the unravelling of the façade that Rory has painted around their life to his clients, colleagues and family. The depth of the O’Hara’s financial black hole threatens to swallow them all.
The return to London psychologically raised the stakes for Rory, who must have felt in his world world of excess that he needed to return with the trappings of greater success than when he left. For Allison, the O’Hara house of cards was well concealed in the relative safety of home in the US, and now her social isolation and the struggles of their kids to fit into the local community amplified how wafer thin the illusion of their success and stability really was.
This film is a slow spiral downwards, and highlights the anxiety of maintaining ongoing success for Rory in his rags to riches narrative. The need to project strength and success and hide fears and failures from loved ones continues today for many men, and will resonate strongly.