In this touching British comedy, two women friends, Antonia and Jane, unknowingly share the same therapist (Brenda Bruce), each using their respective sessions to discuss their upcoming annual dinner with one another.
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Jane Hartman (Imelda Staunton) is a social misfit who disc jockeys on Saturday nights at a retirement home. Concerned that she is unmarried, the well-meaning retirees ply Jane with poppy seed cake and photos of their eligible grandsons. When she is not spinning records, Jane is involved in a bizarre relationship with Norman Beer (Richard Hope), a man who only can become aroused if his partner reads aloud from Iris Murdoch novels. Not only does Jane detest poppy seed cake, she hates the prose of Iris Murdoch.
Jane admits to her therapist that she has always had difficulty in expressing her true feelings and voicing her complaints, a problem her confident, chic and sophisticated friend Antonia McGill (Saskia Reeves) does not possess. Seen through flashbacks, Jane explains that the trouble began at ten years of age when her parents moved her to Canada, seeking a healthy lifestyle for their daughter. While Jane learned many useful things in Manitoba, her “street credibility was minus zero” when she returned to England a few years later. Having spent her formative years in a canoe, Jane was looking to lifelong friend Antonia McGill (Saskia Reeves) to help her become a normal teenager. Even though Antonia was horrible to Jane when they were children, Jane idolized her. Antonia dragged Jane to a stylish boutique, desperate for her friend to lose her “Nanook of the North” image. Jane wanted to discuss politics while Antonia went on and on about the importance of clothes. Annoyed with Antonia for being so superficial, Jane left the store in a huff. After that disappointing meeting, Jane says she “retreated into reality”, becoming absorbed in many unusual hobbies over the years. She soon met Howard Nash (Bill Nighy, “Pirates of the Caribbean 2“), a promising young photographer. Six months later, Jane met up with Antonia at the gym, gushing about her ecstatically happy love affair. Antonia is delighted for Jane and soon goes to her flat to meet Howard. A few weeks later, Antonia admitted that besides having an affair, she and Howard are engaged to be married. Suppressing her anger, Jane attended the wedding, agreed to water their plants while they went on a honeymoon and bought expensive gifts after the birth of their son. Jane even went out with Antonia and Howard for dinner after they were married. When that proved to be rather awkward, Jane and Antonia agreed to meet just once a year … just the two of them. Jane confides to the therapist that she has never forgiven Antonia. When the therapist asks, “Why do you keep on seeing her?” Jane answers that she does not know.
When successful book publisher Antonia arrives for her therapy appointment awhile later, she announces that her life is one big mess. Besides having the usual trouble at work with her exasperating boss Edgar, Antonia's marriage is in jeopardy as accused-of-cheating Howard has moved out. Much to Antonia's horror, her young son has turned her volatile marriage into an inappropriate comedy routine for his school friends. In Howard's absence, Antonia has been excessively exercising, compulsively overeating, hoping to sort out her dismal financial situation and trying to rid her life of clutter. She is also having doubts about her approaching dinner with Jane. Antonia tells the therapist that she does not know why the women even bother with the yearly dinner, as single, adventurous Jane always manages to make Antonia feel middle-aged. When the therapist advises canceling the dinner, Antonia nixes the idea. Knowing that their friendship might be doomed, the two women must decide in the following weeks whether to make this the last dinner they ever share together.
The review of this Movie prepared by Tara Dugan