Ordinary Love Parent Guide
Giving the characters greater opportunity to find meaning in their experience would make for a more powerful film.
Parent Movie Review
In sickness or in health…
Married long enough that squabbling is just part of their “love language”, Tom and Joan (Liam Neeson, Lesley Manville) are well settled in their long-term relationship. But the predictable ebb and flow of their routine is disrupted when Joan thinks she feels a lump in her left breast.
Uttering platitudes, Tom suggests she not worry until she has seen her doctor. So Joan books an appointment the next day. That leads to further tests, trips to the hospital, visits with specialists and eventually a diagnosis. (We see depictions of medical procedures including a bare breast during a mammogram.)
For better or worse…
Facing cancer can be terrifying. Yet this isn’t the first time the couple has had to deal with devastating news. The lingering waves of their last emotional tsunami surface again as the pair navigate long sterile hallways, endless hours in waiting rooms and putting on brave public faces. While Joan endures surgery, the realities of chemotherapy and the possibility of a double mastectomy, Tom watches helplessly, attempting to fill the lonely hours drinking countless cups of cafeteria tea or feeding the fish at home. Along the way, the one bright spot for Joan and Tom is meeting a gay couple (David Wilmot, Amit Shah) struggling through a similar situation.
For richer or poorer…
The word “ordinary” in the title aptly describes the tone of this movie. The characters are regular people leading normal lives. The medical world they enter depicts the routine – and even mundane—nature of the services these healthcare workers provide. The script offers no eloquent speeches or dramatic scenes, and there is next-to-no musical score to manipulate the viewers’ emotions. Instead, the screenplay relies on the incredible skills of the actors to convey the challenges of this difficult journey.
Still, I can’t help wondering what audience the producers were targeting? A story about life and death, featuring breast nudity and brief sex scenes with middle-aged protagonists, isn’t going to attract a young crowd. And anyone who has had this kind of experience isn’t likely to be keen on going through it again. Perhaps this movie is made for those hoping to understand and better empathize with their less-fortunate friends?
Pursuing that train of thought, I once had the opportunity to ask a pediatric oncologist what he did to console his cancer patients and their families. His answer was to help parents and children see the meaning in the journey. That idea has weighed on me ever since.
While the movie abundantly observes the journey (of both the patient and the loved-one strapped in the passenger seat), the script lacks opportunities for the characters to explore its meaning. And that may prove disappointing for those who embark on this voyage.Directed by Lisa Barros D'Sa & Glenn Leyburn. Starring Liam Neeson, Lesley Manville, and David Wilmot. Running time: 92 minutes. Theatrical release February 14, 2020. Updated May 22, 2020
Watch the trailer for Ordinary Love
Rating & Content Info
Why is Ordinary Love rated R? Ordinary Love is rated R by the MPAA for brief sexuality/nudity.
Violence: A couple occasionally bickers. Characters discuss death and dying. Some medical procedures may be disturbing to sensitive audiences. Vomiting after chemotherapy is depicted.
Sexual Content: Breast nudity is seen in medical and sexual contexts. A married couple is briefly shown in bed together engaged in sexual activity (kissing, embracing and thrusting). A man looks at and fondles his wife’s breasts during a conversation leading up to sexual relations. A woman is frequently seen naked from the back, or wearing her bra, during medical procedures. A gay couple is portrayed.
Profanity: Mild profanity and name-calling occur infrequently.
Alcohol / Drug Use: It is implied a character drinks alcohol regularly and he is seen drinking occasionally. Characters argue about purchasing alcohol. Wine is drunk at a restaurant. A character appears drunk after going through a difficult experience. Medical procedures and diagnostic tests are depicted realistically. Taking pain killers are discussed and portrayed. Characters are seen smoking.
Page last updated May 22, 2020
Ordinary Love Parents' Guide
What do you think it means to find meaning in the journey? Do you think the process of finding purpose will be different for each individual? Where would you start to look for such answers?
Reflecting on her cancer diagnosis, Joan remarks that she thought the experience would change her. But she concludes that it really hasn’t. Would you agree with her? Has her illness affected her husband? Has it impacted her relationship with Tom? How do you think you would react if you were told you had a possibly terminal disease?
Because breasts play a role in sexual attraction, Joan and Tom have a conversation about how a possible mastectomy may impact their intimate relationship. How might you broach a subject as delicate as that with your partner?
Joan and Tom are in a long-term relationship. What things do they do that tells you they love one another? What things do they do that may make you question their mutual happiness? How is their marriage tested? In what ways do they pull together? In what ways do they pull apart? Why do you think they stay committed to one another?