Draft Review by Dean Duncan May 29, 2015

Lovely middle class commercial filmmaking, tasteful and solidly intelligent, without challenging or surprising overly; look is quietly and completely evocative, full of quiet, warm textures, beautiful lines and objects, direction is properly restrained (except for the trailer excerpt “you’re the most complete person I’ve ever known” bit), especially when the Winger character dies–man and boy blubbering scene puts one off until he realizes that it’s here that they become part of the same family–staid, satisfying but aloof academic life is very nicely delineated (including collegial suspicions of popular publication) seeming attractive but incomplete, which nicely sets up Hopkin’s transformation from platitudinous performer (sincere but untested) to feeling and frightened human being, interesting hints and glimpses of books and thoughts we know and love, holding Once in Royal David’s city through when boy is looking into the wardrobe is a nice touch; Hopkins, as ever these days (except in Dracula, where he stunk) is quite a miracle: surprising decisions quickly seem inevitable, seemingly infinite range within a narrow scope (Jane Austen), part about him praying because it changes him and not God nearly has the wallop of “yea I believe, help thou my unbelief”, their wedding night scene quite glows with taste and tenderness, the room-service clumsiness at the B&B is fine comedy, and the finding of the heavenly valley is lovely too; character of brother Warnie approximates charms and strategy of the entire film–seeming standoffish until one realizes suddenly that he knows and likes this character; Winger kind of annoying, as I guess Mrs. Gresham was, young boy is very good; one does notice, however, that there’s no payoff lecture (there was one in the play, apparently) where Lewis talks about tribulation with new conviction and authority, in fact religion gets rather left behind, as if death may have left him sadder, wiser, and religionless