A pompous young academic (Byrne) rents a cottage on a dilapidated Irish estate in order to finish off his book on Isaac Newton. The days are hot, the grass is high, and the folks in the Big House soon prove a whole lot more interesting than Newton: drunken stumblebum husband (McCann), valiumed-up wife (Flanagan), and exceedingly playful niece (Walter). Scripted by novelist John Banville, Billington's film certainly looks engaging enough, but it gets increasingly bogged down in its own languor. Art and Life grapple rather solemnly, and the surface gloss only points up the lack of dramatic bite. Yet almost all reservations pale beside Harriet Walter's superb performance as the niece. Tender, understated, generous, this is film acting of a very high calibre, and makes the film well worth a spin.