Hope Gap Parent Guide
This movie is so painful to watch it actually made me feel physically ill.
Parent Movie Review
Jamie (Josh O’Connor) has fond memories of family trips to Hope Gap, a small cove under the white chalk cliffs of England’s south coast. At low tide, young Jamie would wander around the tide pools looking for treasures left by the retreating sea. Now in his mid-twenties, Jamie is stuck with the consequences of a real life hope gap – the one between his mother’s desperate belief that her marriage can be revived and his father’s conviction that it’s dead.
Edward (Bill Nighy) and Grace (Annette Bening) have been married for 29 years and Grace believes that if Edward will only acknowledge the hole in their marriage, they will be able to nurture a stronger relationship. Edward, on the other hand, is convinced that they should never have wed. “I can’t make Grace happy,” he says dolefully. “I’ve tried.” And to make matters worse, he’s fallen in love with another woman.
Determined to end the marriage, Edward asks Jamie to come visit for the weekend, to cushion the blow. And this is where the movie gets ugly. Grace goes right over the edge and both parties put Jamie smack in the middle of their increasingly bitter divorce. It’s hard to describe just how unpleasant it feels to watch the dissolution of this family and the growing cancer of Grace’s rage.
Hope Gap is one of the few movies that has made me feel physically ill. As I watched Grace hit her husband and hurl rancorous comments at both Edward and Jamie, my stomach knotted up and I started pacing in front of my computer. Grace repeatedly insists that a marriage needs to be protected but her actions are so destructive that no relationship could possibly survive. And her treatment of her son is unforgivable. She demands Jamie’s constant attendance, while belittling him for not having a girlfriend and accusing him of taking his father’s side. She phones Edward so frequently that he changes his phone number – thereby making Jamie the go-between for his estranged parents. In a particularly petty touch, she gets a dog, names him Edward, and glories in giving him commands to “Sit” and “Stay”. While I can’t excuse Edward’s unfaithfulness, it’s certainly easy to understand his desperation.
Hope Gap might be an unpleasant film, but it does have some positive features, including minimal negative content. The setting is gorgeous, with lovely shots along the water. The acting is top-notch, with the three performers delivering believable, credible performances. Sadly, this can’t compensate for the depressing nature of the story. I actually wonder what the intended audience is for this film. Anyone who’s gone through a divorce isn’t going to want to relive it, particularly with this level of angry intensity. And this certainly isn’t a how-to movie for couples considering ending their marriages. Maybe it would work best as a cautionary tale about marrying someone who’s emotionally volatile? Whatever the case, I think this movie exposes yet another hope gap – the cleavage between the audience size the producers expect and what they are really going to get.Directed by William Nicholson. Starring Annette Bening, Bill Nighy, and Josh O'Connor. Running time: 100 minutes. Theatrical release May 8, 2020. Updated July 10, 2020
Watch the trailer for Hope Gap
Rating & Content Info
Why is Hope Gap rated PG-13? Hope Gap is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for some thematic elements and brief strong language.
Violence: A woman slaps her husband’s face and tips over a table. A woman says she’d be better off if her husband died. A mother and son have a discussion about suicide. A teacher discusses brutal deaths during Napoleon’s retreat from Russia.
Sexual Content: There is reference to an adulterous relationship. A woman asks her son if he’s gay.
Profanity: There are fewer than a dozen curse words, most of which are terms of deity or scatological terms. There is one sexual expletive.
Alcohol / Drug Use: People drink alcohol with meals.
Page last updated July 10, 2020