We need more directors willing to take risks with films like Get Out.
'Separate Lies" opens with an event so sudden it is over before it can be registered; only later do we discover that a man was knocked from his bicycle by a speeding car, which didn't pause. The man was killed. It happened on a lane near the country home of a London lawyer, on the afternoon he and his wife invited some neighbors for drinks. The dead man was the husband of their housekeeper.
The movie is not so much about the solution to this crime, as about the ethics involved in taking responsibility. If you can, should you get away with murder? What if you did not intend to kill -- what if it was an accident? The man is dead. Should you be made to suffer? Many people have one answer to these questions when a stranger is involved, and another when it touches them personally. Not even a hanging judge wants to hang.
"Separate Lies" stars Tom Wilkinson as James Manning, the lawyer, and Emily Watson as Anne, his wife. Their marriage seems happy enough. He's one of those lawyers who specializes in making powerful clients more powerful. When it comes to matters of right and wrong, he likes to think of himself as inflexible. His wife is accommodating and dutiful and likes the life they lead, the house in London, the Buckinghamshire hideaway.
In the village a remembered face has reappeared. This is William Bule (Rupert Everett), son of a leading local family, recently returned from America, indolent and insinuating as he plays cricket on the village green. He catches Anne's eye, and it is because of him, really, that she tells her husband they should have neighbors over for drinks. Everett plays Bule as a man detached and arrogant, dismissive of conventional values, attractive to women because he doesn't seem to care how they feel about him one way or the other.