I don't ever recall Annette Bening or Bill Nighy giving a bad performance and they are in top form in the film. They are a couple about to celebrate their 29th wedding anniversary when he announces that he is leaving her for another woman. It is the second movie I have seen this month--the other being "The Way Back"--that could have been made in the 1950s (only the latter would have had to cut out all the four+ dirty words) and is a completely different story.
Edward (Nighy) and Grace (Bening) have a grown son Jamie (Josh O'Connor) who lives alone in London which at one point leads Grace to ask her son if he is gay. As a wife and mother Grace is aggressive while her husband is quiet, agreeable and seems to allow his wife to make all the decisions in the marriage. After Edward leaves Grace gets a dog she calls Eddie and you get the feeling that she treated Edward just the way she treats the dog. In one instance she trains the dog to sit and roll over giving him a treat for performing for her and you get the feeling this is how the marriage had been for 29 years.
We see how each feels, including the son who is sort of taken aback that he is taking after his father, instead of his mother, who he realizes may have made his father the meek man he seems. Through their acting and the seamless script and direction by William Nicholson we come to know this family and understand why each acts the way they do from the father walking out to the wife being angry, shocked and determined to make him come back, to the son, caught in the middle, not understanding who his parents are.
Last year there was the film "Marriage Story" with strong performances by the leads playing a couple divorcing and received strong acclaim with Oscar nominations for the leads. Though "Hope Gap" is also a story about divorce it is completely different though just as strong in performances and script.
"Hope Gap" is only 100 minutes but falters with too many scenic shots of the beach, white cliffs, and highways interfering with the flow of the movie. In addition, too many of those scenes take away from watching Annette Bening and Bill Nighy, each doing one of their finest movie performances and that is high praise indeed.