The Waiting Room: An Elegant Romantic Drama by Roger Goldby

Title: The Waiting Room
Studio/Distributor: IFC Films
Director: Roger Goldby
Principle Cast: Ralf Little, Anne-Marie Duff, Rupert Graves, Phyllida Law, Zoe Telford
Length: 106 minutes
Released: 2007
Stars: 3.5

This thought-provoking, sweet and elegant romantic drama opens with the voice of the wonderful Phyllida Law talking about marriage: “Everyone should marry as soon as they can do it to advantage.” Thus begins the journey through the unhappy, yet often amusing, relationships of three characters who realize that what’s missing in their lives is true love: Stephen (Ralf Little), George (Rupert Graves) and Anna (Anne-Marie Duff).

Anna’s bored of wallowing in the aftermath of her broken marriage to children’s television show host Toby (Adrian Bower) and is struggling to raise her young daughter Charlie (Polly Rose McCarthy) alone while carrying on an illicit affair with her next door neighbour and best friend’s husband, George.

We don’t really know where Anna is going or if she works, but she often takes the train to an unknown destination and ends up at the same station. One fateful day, she meets Stephen in the waiting room of the station while they talk to an old man named Roger (Frank Finlay) who attends every day to await the arrival of his wife, who never comes. Anna and Stephen are immediately attracted to each other, although they don’t even exchange names, and afterwards, Anna can’t stop thinking about him.

Stephen, likewise, can’t stop thinking about Anna and realizes that he doesn’t love his girlfriend Fiona (Christine Bottomley) enough to take their relationship to the next level and agree to have children with her. Anna and Stephen’s chance meeting acts as a catalyst for both of them to examine their lives and to make some difficult decisions while they long to meet again.

George is the stay-at-home father of young Joe who is the best friend of Charlie, and his wife Jem (Zoe Telford) seems to have emasculated him for not having a job while she works to support the family and tries to figure out what’s wrong with their marriage while not taking any of the blame for being spiteful to her husband. Jem is oblivious to the fact that her friend Anna is shagging her husband right underneath her nose.

Both Anne-Marie Duff and Ralf Little give outstanding performances in this above average gem that will have you both laughing and choking on the lump in your throat. There is a some gratuitous full frontal nudity from Little that didn’t have to be included in the film in order to appreciate it, but it will grab your attention if it was waning.

The supporting cast is also exceptionally good and there is an authenticity to their characters, not to mention well-written dialogue that enables the viewer to stay invested; particularly Rupert Graves, Zoe Telford, Christine Bottomley, Frank Finlay and Phyllida Law, who plays Stephen’s favourite patient, Helen, at the nursing home where he works. My one criticism about the cast falls with the young actress that was hired to portray Charlie, Anna’s daughter. She seems stiff and unnatural.

The Waiting Room was filmed in autumn in Balham, South London, by Academy Award nominated (for his 1998 short film “It’s Good To Talk”) director and writer Roger Goldby, who pays attention to the fine details on the sets and in all the locations and creates a very credible backdrop for his story. The soundtrack to the movie could have been much better, but this character piece about “love, fate, and being ready to meet the right person” is an above average “sleeper” so full of hope and honesty that it will tug at your heartstrings.

[Special features on the DVD include two trailers and a short Behind-the-Scenes documentary with cast and crew that is quite enjoyable.]

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