Lesley Manville and Liam Neeson’s performances have been described as “miraculous” and “note-perfect” by international critics
Joan and Tom have been married for many years. There is an ease to their relationship which only comes from spending a lifetime together and a depth of love which expresses itself through tenderness and humour in equal part.
When Joan is diagnosed with breast cancer, the course of her treatment shines a light on their relationship as they are faced with the challenges that lie ahead and the prospect of what might become of them if something were to happen to her. Ordinary Love is a story about love, survival and the epic questions life throws at each and every one of us.
Both actors had great faith in the script: “We just trusted [writer] Owen McCafferty’s script and his scenes. We knew we could pretend that we had been married for thirty years.” Liam Neeson explains.
For Lesley Manville, the research surrounding playing a cancer patient didn’t feel daunting. “Everything that happens to Joan, happens to her for the first time. In a way, she only understands what is happening to her through what the doctors are telling her first hand.” Manville wanted to maintain a degree of authenticity. “What I did look into was how women feel after chemo and the loss of their hair, so I spoke to many people and did some reading up on that.”
For Liam Neeson it was much closer to home
“I didn’t want to be a different character to who essentially I am – Liam Neeson from Northern Ireland – and I found that very liberating to be able to do, and hopefully supply a general truthfulness to the scenes by not acting through an accent. James Cagney had a famous expression: ‘Walk in the room, plant your feet, speak the truth.’ That’s all I try to do”.
For Neeson, Tom and Joan’s marriage represented an ideal he hadn’t portrayed on film before, and he was grateful for the time he had to get to know Lesley, as he explains: “Everything is happening to Joan, but it is by proxy happening to him too. They only have each other; their lives are so entwined, and I’ve never done a film where the couple are so closely embroiled in each other lives and emotions and have been through quite so much together.”
Cancer is a diagnosis that many people deal with on a day-to-day basis. However, the team behind Ordinary Love believes there is so much more to the film than illness.
Brian Falconer, producer, explains: “I hope people will take away comfort and inspiration. Ordinary Love is a film about love on so many different levels. But it also says that cancer isn’t the end for a lot of people, even though sadly it is the end for many. When the audience sees Ordinary Love they are going to see an intimate portrait of a rarely seen story. Tom and Joan love, they laugh, they fight; they are ordinary just like all of us.”
Ordinary Love will be released at select cinemas on Friday 14 February 2020
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