Picks and Pans Review: The Wedding Gift

updated 07/18/1994 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/18/1994 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Julie Walters, Jim Broadbent

Walters (best known for 1983's Educating Rita) is a feisty woman stricken with a mysterious ailment; Broadbent is her supportive husband in this story set in the 1980s and based on the true-life saga of English couple Diana and Deric Longden. She has blackouts, her fingers break at the slightest pressure, and she can no longer walk. Walters goes from hospital to hospital (her stays are enlivened by her deliciously dotty mother-in-law, Thora Hird). The doctors administer test after test, finally suggesting—patronizingly and incorrectly—that it's all in her head. She believes she's going to die and quite gamely accepts the fact, hiding pills around her suburban London home in case she decides to take matters into her own hands. She also takes into her own hands the matter of finding Broadbent a new wife (Sian Thomas).

The Wedding Gift doesn't have much context. Because we are thrown smack into the midst of Walters' grievous plight—the movie opens with a scene of her having a blackout—there is little sense of the couple's life before it became hostage to hospitals. But this is not to be dismissed as a disease-of-the-week movie. It is instead a sharply written and beautifully played drama of a couple whose love, regrettably, is not a cure. (PG-13)

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