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In post-war Germany in 1946, Rachael Morgan (Keira Knightley) arrives in the ruins of Hamburg in the bitter winter, to be reunited with her husband Lewis (Jason Clarke), a British colonel charged with rebuilding the shattered city. But as they set off for their new home, Rachael is stunned to discover that Lewis has made an unexpected decision: they will be sharing the grand house with its previous owners, German widower Stephen Lubert (Alexander Skarsgard) and his troubled daughter Freda (Flora Thiemann). In this charged atmosphere, enmity and grief give way to passion and betrayal.

Review by Louise Keller:
Endings and new beginnings form the mainstay of this love triangle in which blame, guilt and Debussy play prominent roles. Set on a backdrop of post-war Germany, this adaptation of Rhidian Brook's novel may not bring much that is new, but it is well done and the performances compelling. Cinematic and romantic, the film combines honour with personal dilemma, punctuated by the essence of the horrors of the war and its aftermath. It feels a little like a Mills and Boon tale, its winter-white setting and grand European home a stark contrast to the violent street protests and civil unrest. The peaceful picture-perfect snowy scenes counter the underlying tensions - political and personal. TV director James Kent brings a dreamy feel to many of the scenes - especially when photogenic Keira Knightley and ultra-smooth Alexander Skarsgard heat up the screen in passionate closeup.

When Rachael (Knightley) reunites with her husband Lewis (Jason Clarke) at a railway station in Hamburg in 1945, it is clear that there is tension between them. Tension escalates when we meet the former owner of the splendid stately home they now call their home. Stephen Lubert (Skarsgard), reminiscent of a young Tim Robbins, fits the heartthrob mould as the handsome widower - a contrast to the solid Lewis, whose duty for his country seems to come before anything else. All three carry the weight of a tragedy - how they each deal with it is totally different.

One of the film's most moving moments involves a Steinway, Debussy and Rachael's bonding with Stephen's teenage daughter Freda (Flora Thiemann). Also potent is the scene in which Lewis finally talks about the things he has been unable to confront and bares his soul. A maroon child's jumper has significance.

Knightley looks fabulous throughout; the camera caresses her features in tight close up. Watch for the scene when she wears black velvet and pearls, but it is at the regimental dinner when she dons a slinky gold silk gown in circumstances that are far from glittering.

All the performances are excellent and the film is as polished as you would expect. It does not go that extra step, nor does it pierce our hearts in the way it could, but it delivers nonetheless with a good old fashioned tale about love, loss and finding a way through the rubble of life.

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(UK/Germany/US, 2019)

CAST: Keira Knightley, Jason Clarke, Alexander Skarsgard, Anna Katharina Schimrigk, Jack Lasky, Martin Compston

PRODUCER: Jack Arbuthnott, Malte Grunert, Ridley Scott

DIRECTOR: James Kent

SCRIPT: Joe Shrapnel, Anna Waterhouse, Rhidian Brook (novel by Rhidian Brook)


EDITOR: Beverley Mills

MUSIC: Martin Phipps


RUNNING TIME: 108 minutes



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