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Somerset, 1958. Eva enters adulthood with good humor, keeping house for her absent-minded father, letting her younger sister Janie in on the secrets of growing up, working at a furniture factory, and dreaming of Joseph Lees, her second cousin who's off in Africa and Italy as a geologist, but has lost a leg in an accident. She's also considering the advances of a local farmer, Harry Flite, ebullient and head over heels for Eva. She agrees to live with him and seems happy, then at a family wedding, Joseph appears, she asks him to dance, and her fantasy begins to clash with Harry's obsession. Written by
Film-making is all about Waiting they say. So is Love. This film epitomizes the seemingly unending Wait for the Right Man - that one man who signifies all that is beautiful and pure and noble of mind and body - someone worth living and fighting for. For Eva this Wait has even more poignance because she knows who that man is...that he's not just a figment of her imagination, but a living breathing man named Joseph Lees - someone whom she knows can broaden the horizons of her restricted world and love her for who she is and not for what he derives from her(which is how Harry loves her).
The case against Harry is not predetermined. It is established gradually. There are some touching moments between Eva and him when he's actually likeable. The scene in which he takes Eva out of the crowded boxing room is one such incident. Harry is at once boyish and likeable and selfish and despicable. Lee Ross has brought out these shades in his character brilliantly.
As much as it is Eva's story, it is also the story of Joseph Lees. And it is Rupert Graves, in the title role, who makes this film for what it is. He is a Dream(don't mean to pun!) in the film! I had only seen him in Louis Malle's 'Damage' which he did 7 years before 'Dreaming...', a film in which he looked much younger, though he was completely overshadowed by the oh-so-powerful Jeremy Irons who played his father. For the audience to feel any empathy whatsoever for Eva for dreaming of Joseph Lees for so long, the actor had to be someone for whom the audience would feel the same. And Rupert Graves is absolutely divine in the role! It is because of him that the audience too gets involved in Eva's quest for Joseph Lees. In any film of this sort, deriving empathy for the characters is everything. It is to the credit of Eric Styles, the director that he has managed that. From the beginning you know that these two people, Eva and Joseph *have to* be together. You laud Janie, Eva's little sister(wonderfully played by Lauren Richardson) in her efforts to bring them together. You frown at Eva's father who unknowingly acts as an obstacle between them.
Samantha Morton is excellent as Eva. It must be tough to act in a film where you have to cry so much and make it look real. She manages that. Her convulsive fit of tears in the end just before she rejoins Joseph is very well rendered by Morton. She has rendered the character with due grace and sensitivity.
Cinematography and music are two of the other wonders of this film. The former has added to the atmospheric quality of the film, capturing well the wild undulating beauty of the Isle of Man where the film was shot. The music has added beautiful lyrical cadences to the emotions in the film. Not surprisingly it is composed by a master-composer like Zbigniew Preisner whose music for Kieslowski's 'Blue' and other films is equally beautiful.
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