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Man in the Sidecar, The

Successful novelist Edith (Gemma Jones) becomes increasingly distanced from her unsuccessful playwright husband Gerald (James Laurenson). Their long-time lodger Tommy (David Collings), a freewheeling Welshman and hangover from their earlier ‘swinging’ lifestyle (Edith and Tommy slept together before the marriage) becomes increasingly tiresome to Edith as he invites himself round to their social gatherings, gets pissed and throws up, but to his best friend Gerald he is, more so than their baby, the only thing keeping the marriage together (there’s a lovely scene where a game of tiddlywinks between the two men develops into a – fully clothed – wrestling match a la Women in Love, which of course Edith walks in on). Edith’s latest novel, written longhand at a schooldesk, turns out to both echo and prefigure what happens next, as she kicks out first Tommy and then Gerald. Gerald, in turn, makes off with her manuscripts. After several frantic calls, Gerald turns up at night, and proceeds to overdose on sleeping pills in front of Edith.

A great script by SImon Gray, full of tirades and sniping between the three main characters, and completely devoid of warmth and affection (though this is certainly not a minus point). Gray never takes this middle-class frostiness for granted, always examining why these rather objectionable people are as they are, not just using the icy brittleness as a default setting for drawing-room duels in the manner of many lesser studies of marriage breakup.

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