A cyclist is killed, swiped by a Range Rover in a village lane. James and Anne Manning become involved because the victim is the husband of their cleaner, Maggie. James, a solicitor in the city, soon comes to suspect William Bule, a millionaire playboy who has moved back to the village. William, pressed by James, confesses to the hit and run. But the confession is clouded by Anne's admission of her affair with William. Written by
Excellent depiction of a relationship and its complexities
Another great Tom Wilkinson performance punctuates "Separate Lies," a 2005 film also starring Emily Watson, Linda Bassett and Rupert Everett. Directed by Julian Fellowes, it's the story of a married couple, James and Ann Manning where the husband (Wilkinson) believes he and his wife (Watson) are happy together. An accident near their house on the night they have a party brings the police around. It is a hit and run that killed their maid Maggie's (Bassett) husband. James becomes suspicious of a neighbor, Bill Bule (Everett) when he sees some damage on his car. He confronts Bule, who admits he did it and promises to go to the police the next day. When James arrives home, Ann is angry that he is making such a big deal out of it and states that she was driving the car.
Of course, James then isn't so eager to rush to the police. She suggests that they call Bule and tell him their decision. "Oh, f___ Bule," James says. "Well, that's just it," Ann says. "I am f___ing Bule."
James' devastation is just the beginning in this well-crafted drama. Without giving the plot away, this is a good example of how gender switching changes a story. Example of what I mean: Susan Smith drives her car into a lake and her children drown. She gets life in prison. What if the father had done it? The chair.
You'd be surprised how often the outcome would be different. The same is true here - if it had been James having the affair and doing the subsequent activities, viewers might feel differently about the story. If Ann were in James' place, it would be shattering. As it is, it's tremendously sad.
Tom Wilkinson is heartbreaking as a man blindsided by the woman he adores, and Emily Watson does a beautiful job as Ann, who, once she frees herself from her lies - her involvement in the accident and the happy marriage - knows what she has to do. Rupert Everett as Bule is very effective - indolent, uppity and ultimately in need. Everyone here is very civilized in their dealings with one another, and no one is all good or all bad.
There are separate lies - James that his marriage is happy, Ann's as listed above - and there is one uniting lie - the accident, about which all parties keep quiet. It's enough for Ann that Maggie knows. In the end, all must deal with the separate lies that the single lie uncovered.
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