The reality of the Blitz is left to archive as Maybury keeps things personal, depicting alleyways at night, smoky pubs and cramped flats as an intense friendship builds between Caitlin and Vera; Vera meets and marries William (Cillian Murphy), a straight-backed soldier who leaves for service overseas; and Caitlin and Vera buzz around Thomas like ‘Jules et Jim’ after a sex change.
Maybury’s shooting style is dark and angular; the production design, costumes and make-up are all too precious. If only Maybury let a little air out of his film: every window comes with a shaft of light; every mirror catches the camera’s eye. Visually, things lighten up when the trio move to a pair of bungalows in Wales, although the mood becomes more downbeat and destructive when a shell-shocked William returns from Greece to wonder why his wife and friends are living the life of Bacchus with his money. Ultimately, Sharman Macdonald’s screenplay is too muddled, too unfocused – is it about Thomas? is it about Vera and Caitlin? is it about Vera and William’s marriage? – although Maybury’s cinematic invention is never less than imaginative.