The Waiting Room (2007) / Drama-Romance

MPAA rated: Not rated, but would be R for nudity, sexual situations, and language
Running time: 110 min.

Cast: Anne-Marie Duff, Rupert Graves, Ralf Little, Zoe Telford, Christine Bottomley, Frank Finlay, Daisy Donovan, Adrian Bower, Phyllida Law
Director: Roger Goldby
Screenplay: Roger Goldby
Review published December 5, 2012

The Waiting Room 2007 GoldbyA soap-opera-ish concoction from veteran TV writer-director Roger Goldby that will likely be passable entertainment for the romantics (particularly women), but a tedious slog for those looking for a little more substance.  In many ways it plays like a made-for-Lifetime sudser, only with some graphic male nudity, a sex scene, and bad language. 

Set in the London suburbs, the film follows several people who are engaged in relationships, and how they criss-cross one another.  Anne-Marie Duff (Notes on a Scandal, Enigma) gets more of the screen time as Anna, a divorced mom who is having a romance with the married man next door, George (Graves, Death at a Funeral).  Jem (Telford, The Painted Veil) is George's oblivious wife, who happens to be friends with Anna, and even tries to hook her up with a handsome eligible bachelor friend. 

Also in play in Anna's life is her ex Toby (Brower, Dirty Filthy Love), who is desperately trying to get more visitation with their precocious.  A second storyline involves Stephen (Little, 24 Hour Party People), a young nursing home attendant involved in a relationship of his own with Fiona, a woman ready to settle down and have kids, but Stephen struggles with his feelings as to whether he really is that into the woman enough to make a life with her.  Further complications ensue when Anna and Steven run into each other at a train station and become infatuated with one another despite not knowing anything of the other.

The main problem with The Waiting Room is that the characterizations are scant, and much of what we do know, we don't like.  Why Anna is willing to risk her friendship with Jem for a cretin like George can only be guessed at.  Boredom?  Loneliness?  Either way, Jem isn't exactly chopped liver in the looks department (many will think her the more attractive of the two) and is a whole lot less complicated, which begs the question as to why George need look next door, other than the fact he's a creep. 

Meanwhile, Anna feels guilty about potentially being a home wrecker, when she unwittingly wrecks the relationship between Stephen and Fiona. And what's wrong with Fiona, portrayed a more attractive and personable woman than Anna?  Is Stephen not ready for a family?  Is she not a good enough dance partner as the Anna that Stephen begins daydreaming incessantly about despite not knowing a lick about her?  Well, I wonder how surprised he would be if he found out that Stephen will have to learn to be a father in a hurry if he wants any chance for a future with Anna and her young daughter.

The only characters we seem to root for are the significant others who must fret and cry while the men they are investing so much time and love into come around and stop looking forlorn.  But the film thinks that a happy ending shouldn't be for them so much as for the philandering Anna and the not-ready-for-a-real-relationship George, who are the two characters that know each other the least (and possibly have the least in common).  Meanwhile, tearjerker moments come in the form of an elderly man with Alzheimer's named Roger (Finlay, The Pianist), who is waiting in vain for his long-lost wife to depart from the local train to join him again, while he also plays matchmaker for the two would-be lovers he doesn't know at the time are already taken.

Perhaps pretends that it deals with the real life and love of ordinary Londoners, but does so in some rather fanciful ways that make it all seem just a bit too contrived and beyond the scope of real-life adults to engage in.  The best moments come between the adults and how they deal with their children, when all the while, they continue to act irresponsibly.  Not that this isn't a real thing adults often do, but it some of the decisions made within the course of the story seem far too difficult to swallow as they play out.

The actors do they best they can with mostly underwritten roles, and their performances keep the drama afloat during most scenes, though their actions begin to make each of them less likeable for most to root for.  If you're someone who typically goes for made-for-TV quality filmmaking, you'll likely be more forgiving of this low aiming, mostly derivative drama.
Qwipster's rating:

©2012 Vince Leo