A seemingly dream life is ripped apart in the very British Separate Lies.
It concerns wealthy international lawyer James Manning (Tom Wilkinson) in a wonderful romance to younger lively Anne (Emily Watson). They have no children and spend their time in a large London flat and a country home on weekends. Because of their attitudes about their upscale lifestyles, one doesn't wish ill will on these people.
Yet, it all starts once the husband of their cleaning lady (Linda Bassett) is found dead on a road leading to their house. An aristocratic neighbor, pleasure-seeking Bill, done indolently by Rupert Everett, is suspected of what seems like a routine hit-and-run accident. James thinks that this handsome, divorced man drove the car, and Bill, it turns out, wants to share more information with the police.
The film is directed and written by Julian Fellowes, who won an Oscar for his screenplay for Gosford Park. There appears to be a similarity in complexity embedded in the plotting which has the elements of a whodunit and a love triangle. He has a way with storytelling and actors for sure, but his first time behind the camera sometimes is similar to Everett's portrait which exceeds Bill's lackadasical state.
Separate Lies creates some emotionally wrenching moments. Watson and, especially, Wilkinson show why they are two of the best actors in the movies. The motivations for Anne's choices concerning the sickly, if cunning Bill perhaps is lost in the mannerly behavior. If one is left cold by the elegant production and the bewildering moral ambiguity, then it is Wilkinson's grief-stricken, perplexed cuckold that flourishes in unexpected, impassioned ways.