Dir: Sharon Maguire.
This relatively large-scale
Buyers and audiences will be drawn by the pairing of Williams with Ewan McGregor (they will also be seen together later this year in The Tourist) but the appetite for harrowing depictions of suicide bombings in the heart of
Maguire herself adapted the film from Chris Cleave's novel but makes several key changes, although the film is still couched as a letter from a young working class woman to Osama Bin Laden.
The woman is married to a bomb disposal expert whose preoccupation with various terror threats has put a strain on the marriage. The two have a four year-old son (Johnston) on whom the woman dotes, but when her husband is called off on duty, she goes out searching for affection and sex and one week is picked up by a journalist for The Daily Express called Jasper Black (McGregor).
On the Saturday of that week (May Day), when her husband and son have gone to the Arsenal match at the local Emirates Stadium, she brings Jasper back to her council house and the two make love while watching the match. But just as they are in mid-coitus, a series of bombs explodes at the stadium and the two race to the scene of the disaster.
Sure enough, both her husband and her son are among the many fatalities of the attack by Islamic fundamentalists and the woman has to face up to her loss. She finds a solace of sorts with her husband's boss, high level anti-terrorism policeman Terrence Butcher (Macfadyen), who gradually attempts to woo her into a relationship with him.
Meanwhile, Jasper identifies one of the suicide bombers in some CCTV footage and informs the woman of his identity. She tracks down his family in
While she recovers in hospital, Jasper and Terrence vie for her affections and she finds out some shocking truths about the police's advance knowledge of the May Day bombings. Estranged from both suitors, she sinks into a deep depression and deludes herself into thinking that her son is still alive. Only the discovery that she is pregnant propels her forward out of her grief.
The bombing itself is a powerful sequence and Maguire is aided by some impressive effects work. Images of nationwide grief ring true and the notion of dirigibles launched into the air above
If the bombing itself is hauntingly plausible, the plot contains far too many implausibilities - the ease with which the woman gains access to the disaster site, the fact that Jasper Black identifies one of the bombers before the police, the fact that the woman is left alone in the terrorism czar's office and tidies up his top secret files unchecked, the fact that she is shot in the back by police yet seems barely hurt.
By the time Williams delivers her final Churchill-esque monologue to Osama, it is clear that Maguire wants the film to be a big-hearted plea for humanity on both sides. But by weakening the audience's faith in the plot, she has undermined the impact of her message.
Williams, complete with solid north
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