WELCOME TO THE WAITING ROOM

2007

Running Time: 110 min.
Country: United Kingdom United Kingdom
Director: Roger Goldby
Screenwriter: Roger Goldby
Music: Edmund Butt
Cinematography:James Aspinall
Cast:
Anne-Marie Duff, Ralf Little, Rupert Graves, Frank Finlay, Zoe Telford, Phyllida Law, Christine Bottomley, Adrian Bower, Daisy Donovan

Synopsis

THE WAITING ROOM tells the story of two separate groups of friends, partners, colleagues and lovers, living and working alongside each other in Balham and yet completely unconnected - until a chance encounter at a train station throws all of their lives onto a different track. </p>

ANNA (Anne-Marie Duff) single-handedly brings up daughter Charlie since separating from her father TOBY (Adrian Bower). She lives next door to JEM  (Zoe Telford) and GEORGE (Rupert Graves), who are married with a small boy. Jem and Anna are close friends and share all their secrets - with the one exception being that Anna is having a hurried and largely unsatisfactory affair with George.

Meanwhile, STEPHEN (Ralf Little) and FIONA (Christine Bottomley) live together nearby and while Fiona is suddenly keen to start a family, Stephen is unsure whether he can commit - despite pressure from Fiona and even her parents (Allan Corduner and Lizzy McInnerny).

Stephen works in a local old people's home and loves it, building relationships with all the residents, especially HELEN (Phyllida Law) and ROGER (Frank Finlay).

 Helen is growing frail while Roger is forever disappearing to the train station to meet his wife despite the fact that she died some years before.

On one of these forays Stephen goes to collect Roger and bumps into Anna. A brief conversation has a huge impact on them both and leaves each wondering about the other, pitching their unhappy home lives into sharp relief. They don't even know each others' names and yet they know that there is a connection. As their individual lives move onwards they find themselves thinking more and more of the stranger they met in the waiting room - and what would happen should they meet again.

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THE WAITING ROOM deals with the universal desire to find and maintain a union with the right partner and our fears of growing old alone. It explores the plethora of emotions thrown up by a relationship breakdown - namely hurt, anger, and a sense of betrayal.  It also examines the sheer joy and exhilaration of meeting 'the one'.

The film is a character-driven piece in the realm of The Squid and the Whale, Lost in Translation, The Station Agent and You Can Count on Me.  In other words, it is not an 'events and effects' film.   Instead, it is aimed at an audience who want to see something different, more original and more personal than what's available in the big budget mainstream.  To see a film that will cause reflection on their own lives.

Audiences will enjoy this thought-provoking film precisely because it investigates aspects of contemporary relationships we can all recognize and identify with.  In his characteristic way, Goldby will deal with these serious real-life issues truthfully, but also with warmth and humor.

The film's subject matter suits a digital filmmaking approach as the script dictates a naturalistic and observational style - but not to the point of grim reality. Goldby is shooting on HD Cam, creating strong images through framing and blocking that illuminate the inherent drama.  The film is being shot in a cinematic way that takes it out of the ordinary, emphasizing the poetic nature of the piece: the idea that over only a few days, your whole life can change, and something wonderful can happen.

Ultimately Goldby is taking care to make sure that within this 'poeticized reality', the lighting and camera style do not get in the way of the actor's actions and performances.  His expertise with actors is well-established and he will ensure that the audience emotionally engages with the characters, as they provide the heart of the film.

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TOMATOMETER  CRITICS 60% | AUDIENCE 57%

Two strangers find their chance meeting in a South London train station suddenly bringing together two entirely separate groups of friends, colleagues, lovers, and acquaintances in director Roger Goldby's tale of intersecting lives. Anna (Anne-Marie Duff) and Stephen (Rolf Little) were sitting in a deserted train platform when kindly senior citizen Roger (Frank Finlay) engaged them in conversation while eagerly awaiting the arrival of his beloved wife. As they listen to Roger fondly reminiscing about all of the things that he and his wife did when they were younger, Anna and Stephen realize that they have made a real connection and, if only for a moment, allow their individual lives to slip out of focus. Having recently separated from Toby (Adrian Bower), single mother Anna is now faced with the task of bringing up her young daughter Charlie all by herself. Anna's neighbors are married young parents Jem (Zoe Telford) and George (Rupert Graves). While Jem and Anna are close friends who share all of their secrets, the one thing that Anna hasn't let out is the fact that she has entered into a troublesome affair with George. Stephen, on the other hand, has recently moved in with Fiona (Christine Bottomly), who is so eager to start a family that even her parents are pressuring she and Stephen to get pregnant. But the more intense the pressure gets, the less certain Stephen becomes that he is prepared for such a commitment. It seems like the only peace Stephen can find these days is in his work at a local old folk's home and his friendship with understanding resident Helen (Phyllida Law). Later, after Stephen and Anna go their separate ways, their lives both move into a pivotal period as they find themselves wondering just what would happen should they ever meet again. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi

 

CRITICS REVIEWS

June 4, 2008

*** Dave Calhoun Top Critic

Time Out

Roger Goldby’s amiable first feature, a study of love lost and found in autumnal Balham, offers mild, easy pleasures, even if it stalks emotional truths rather than pierces them. Likeable single mother Anna (Anne-Marie Duff) lives next door to a pair of yuppies, brittle Jem (Zoe Telford) and selfish George (Rupert Graves), who prefers to sneak next door for sex rather than look for a job. Elsewhere, gentle care-home nurse Stephen (Ralf Little) has a decent enough relationship with his clingy girlfriend Fiona (Christine Bottomley), but he evades all talk of babies and can’t get his mind off Anna, the girl he bumped into at the station the other day…

We know Anna and Stephen are meant for each other from the moment their paths cross. They each, separately, have lots of time for the elderly, which is a sure sign of compassion in a film that relies heavily on obvious images of trains to suggest strangers passing in the night. The oldies at Stephen’s care home are further signposts: dying Helen (Phyllida Law) warns Stephen against believing the grass can be greener, while absent-minded Roger (Frank Finlay) might not be as senile as he looks. Fair play to Goldby for bucking a trend for extremes by looking to the city’s middle classes and elderly for drama, but ‘The Waiting Room’ would be a better film if he’d focused harder on fewer characters and leant less heavily on poor music and

 

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June 9, 2013

Dennis Schwartz

Ozus' World Movie Reviews

"A genial but dullish romantic drama."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz  GRADE: C+

Brit TV director Roger Goldby in his debut feature movie helms and writes a genial but dullish romantic drama, one that is all too familiar and feels like a made for TV romcom. It's slow-moving and has a contrived ending, as it tells its awkward relationship tale without distinction. The positive is the good acting from the entire cast. It's set in a suburban area in South London, and its main event takes place at Wandsworth Station.

It opens showing that the pathetic married, stay at home dad, George (Rupert Graves), is having an affair with his feisty attractive single-mom next-door neighbor Anna (Anne-Marie Duff). George is married to Jem (Zoe Telfund), the best friend of Anna.

When the unbalanced elderly resident of the local nursing home, Roger (Frank Finlay), is at the railroad station for his daily visit to greet a wife who died a long time ago, Anna is also there to catch a train and gets into a friendly conversation with Roger about his dear wife in the waiting room. Soon Roger's nursing home care-taker Stephen (Ralf Little) arrives to escort Roger back. There's a love at first sight flash between the two strangers, but no phone numbers or names are exchanged. They will spend the entire movie trying to find each other again, but will have to wait until the last few minutes of the film before we get that predictable sugary ending.

Meanwhile at the nursing home, sensitive care-taker, Stephen is seen on the job gently treating his elderly charges and then at night sleeping with the 28-year-old Fiona (Christine Bottomley), his demanding neurotic girlfriend who tells him she wants him to get her pregnant.

After Stephen's encounter with the mystery woman, he can only think of her, while Anna dreams of her mystery man. Both break-up their dead-end affairs, and on schedule they meet again at the station and daffy Roger is there to play Cupid.

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June 5, 2008

Ian Winterton Film4

If you want a good, thought-provoking wallow in the happy/sad soup of life, this is a tear-jerking gem.

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June 4, 2008

** Anna Smith Empire Magazine

All is rosy at the start of this London-set drama, as a giggling couple pop upstairs to grab a passionate moment while their children watch TV. But when George (Rupert Graves) takes his kid and goes home to his wife, it’s clear that single mother Anna (Anne-Marie Duff) could do a lot better. Enter Stephen (Ralf Little), an introspective nurse who could be perfect for Anna - but is his current relationship worth hanging onto? With its emphasis on love at first sight, the central romance is contrived, but the observant scenes between Graves and the excellent Duff do engage. This muses on the difficulties of parenthood and temptation with moderate success.

With its emphasis on love at first sight, the central romance is contrived, but the excellent cast do engage.

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 AUDIENCE REVIEWS

 

May 5, 2013

**** GH

In a movie like this, people usually miss the parent-child love stories. While it's not shown, Anna seems to realize that she has let her negative feelings about Toby disrupt the father-child bond. She rectifies that, just as she rectifies her betrayal of her friend, Jem. Meanwhile, George has gone off the rails, and that includes being an increasingly distant father and husband. That, too, is fixed. So, while the love-at-first-site story seems to be important, it is really not. The only thing that bothered me about the film was that the "hero" (Stephen) is unfair and distant to Fiona, and why should we feel that he will be any more understanding or communicative with Anna??

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December 29, 2013

*** ½  Cynthia S

Really slow, but sweet. Nice ending...

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March 21, 2012

**** Jim E

I need to quibble with Colleen's review, because she completely missed the relationship tangles here. Yes, the seemingly uncaring husband, mean to his wife, is also cheating on her with the female neighbor next door. That woman has a child, from her former husband, with whom she quarrels and gets little support. Meanwhile, the other young man (who works in the old folks home) does not live "next door" to anyone -- he in fact lives with a COMPLETELY DIFFERENT WOMAN in another part of town entirely...she just happens to also have blonde hair, and looks a little bit like the other character.

The uncaring, cheating husband character is NOT a psychotherapist...he is actually unemployed, is a "house husband," and has been offered a job that he does not want. The psychotherapist is a visitor to their home for one evening, who is being "set up" as the date for the single woman who is having the affair with the husband.

Colleen obviously did not enjoy the film, but I am wondering if her confusion about just who is who in the darn thing in a small way contributed to her negative reactions. I found it charming and quite realistic, and was not bothered at all by the slow movement of the script, which calls for the viewer to pay attention to the subtle changes that make all of these characters more human, and more sympathetic, by film's end.- jimeddy

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March 16, 2012

* ½ Colleen W

The plot is very weak and the flim is slow moving. The film plods along without any genuine character development. Rupert Graves, Anne Marie-Duffy, Phyllida Law are excellent actors completely wasted by the dull and uneventful script. There is pointless full frontal male nudity showing the man urinating into a toilet. Scenes like this do absolutely nothing to develop the narrative development. I don't mind nudity in films - but at least the film has to have some semblance of a plot.

The dull script revolves around a married couple - with the husband committing adultery with the next door neighbor - and that next door neighbor living with a commitment phobic boyfriend who does not want to marry her, nor have kids with her. To make matters even more pathetic - the husband who is committing adultery with the next door neighbor is a psychotherapist. He brags he earns 50 British pounds per hour (approx. $120 US dollars an hour) - but his OWN personal life is completely screwed up - he cheats on his wife - he is an indifferent, disengaged father....when his own child is crying in the night - wailing for help - the father refuses to go help his child - the father sits and reads a book - and ignores his crying child - and THIS is a person who charges $120 dollars an hour as a pscychotherapist who tells people how to fix their personal problems? Pathetic.

To make matters even worse - the adulterous, cheating husband actually has the nerve to invite his next door mistress over to dinner and have the unsuspecting wife prepare a dinner party for his next door neighbor mistress. Appalling!

The husband has no charm, totally self absorbed - it was hard for me to understand what all these women even see in this guy. I have always been an admirer of Rupert Graves acting - he's a terrific actor - totally wasted in a weak script.

To sum it up - this film is a snooze-fest - just a British soap opera which was made for British television Channel 4.

This film is certainly not the worst movie ever made - just plodding, dull script without character development. Too bad so many excellent actors were wasted on this snooze-fest. I would grade this film with a very weak C minus.

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April 11, 2010

*** ½ Grace H

There is a quiet reality - it does not try to sugarcoat the desire, struggle and loss of love, family, life but it does not overdo those. Serendipity takes on a life of its own and plays a big part in our lives...

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January 30, 2010

***** 339z

wow umn just seen this movie 4 the 1st time n think that this is a good movie 2 watch.......its got a good cast of actors/actressess thorughout this movie....i think that anne-marie duff, ralf little, rupert graves, phyllida law, zoe telford, frank finlay play good roles/parts throughout this movie....i think that the director of this drama/romance/comedy movie had done a good job of directing this movie because you never know what 2 expect throughout this movie....i think that this is a really powerful drama movie 2 watch its got a great cast throughout this movie....i think that this is a good movie 2 watch

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November 22, 2009

*** Kevin C

Top-notch cast in this strange, little; but very enjoyable film. A snapshot of 21st century London, and trials and tribulations of modern life. It veers closely into soap territory, but pulls back.

Duff is a great actress deserving of bigger things.

TheWaitingRoomFilm.com