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A doctor and a female executive try to cope with their love for an aloof bisexual artist.
Middle-aged London physician Daniel Hirsch and employment counselor Alex Greville are simultaneously carrying on affairs with the same young man, artist Bob Elkin. Unknown to each other, Daniel and Alex share the same answering service which both continually check for messages from the elusive Bob, as well as a mutual friendship with Alva and Bill Hodson. Alex is anxious about the upcoming weekend, during which she and Bob are to stay at Alva and Bill's home to look after their five children while the couple attends an academic conference. Apprehensive that Bob might back out of the weekend, Alex arrives at the Hodsons' late Friday night, as dinner breaks up and is relieved to find Bob. While Daniel spends the evening alone at his flat, gazing thoughtfully at the garden light-sculpture Bob has given him, the Hodsons depart and Alex and Bob play with the exuberant children. On Saturday afternoon when Bob indicates he would like to go into town, Alex immediately asks if he will be seeing Daniel, but Bob remains evasive and departs. A surprised Daniel welcomes Bob and the men spend the afternoon in bed together. Afterward, Bob examines his light-sculpture and confides that an art dealer in America is very interested in the piece. Aware of Bob's weekend plans, Daniel asks if Alex knows of Bob's visit, but the younger man responds equivocally. Bob then asks Daniel when they will take their long planned trip to Italy and Daniel assures him that he can go at the end of the month. At the Hodsons', precocious older daughter Lucy asks the grumpy Alex if she is overeating because Bob has left her. Later, the power goes out and when Bob returns he replaces the fuses as Alex heatedly accuses him of thoughtlessness, as the purpose of the weekend was to spend it together. Bob suggests that Alex wants too much from him while he is giving her all there is, but Alex sulks. That evening, Alex apologizes for her moodiness and the couple reconciles. Daniel spends the evening with some friends at the opera and is disconcerted when he runs into a former lover on the drive home. Daniel spends Sunday alone, while Alex and Bob take the children and their Rottweiler to the park. The group spends a boisterous morning until Lucy dashes across a street with the dog, which is struck and killed by a truck. Stunned, Lucy is inconsolable while the other children are hushed and silent. Back at home, Bob cheerfully leads the children in a drawing contest to distract them as thoughts of the accident prompt Alex to recall a fearful incident when she was child during the war. Late that afternoon, Bob encourages Alex to rest and when she awakens in the early evening she discovers Alva and Bill have returned. Alex expresses regret for the death of their dog and is relieved when Alva indicates that Bob has invited some fellow artists over and is working. Alex looks in on the men but is unsettled when she overhears one of Bob's colleagues advise him to redesign his latest work once he reaches America. Later, when Bob drives Alex home, he declines to spend the night with Alex, to her disappointment. The following Tuesday, Alex dines with her father and mother. When Mr. Greville takes a business call, Alex comments that she is uncomfortable with her parents constantly inviting her ex-husband to dine. Mrs. Greville admits they like Alex's former husband and reveals he hopes to reunite with Alex. When Alex chastises her mother for tolerating her spouse's inconsiderate behavior over the years, her mother speculates about Alex's current romance. Mrs. Greville tells Alex she expects too much from a relationship, then startles her daughter by admitting that many years earlier she had left her husband. Mrs. Greville reveals that she returned when she discovered she missed him and tells Alex that she is mistaken in considering her parents' relationship "nothing." On the way home that night, Alex unknowingly crosses paths with Daniel as both purposely drive by Bob's flat. Wednesday Alex has her hair trimmed and re-writes a letter of resignation to her boss. At her office she counsels a middle-aged businessman, George Harding and, attracted to his easy manner, invites him home. That same evening, Daniel has a party at his flat, but Bob grows weary of a drunken, arguing couple and, despite Daniel's protests, leaves. At Alex's, Bob is surprised to meet George, but later when Alex asks him if he minds, insists that he does not, which discourages Alex. The next day Bob visits a doctor for a smallpox vaccine as he makes preparations to go to America. Daniel stops at a travel agency to retrieve several brochures on Italy but is let down when Bob cancels their dinner engagement that evening. At Daniel's apartment Friday night, Bob suffers a mild physical reaction to the vaccination, then admits he had the inoculation because of his travel plans. Although upset, Daniel asks if the trip will bolster Bob's career and Bob replies he is uncertain but willing to take the chance. On Saturday, Daniel spends the day with his large family celebrating the bar mitzvah of his nephew. Bob meets Alex at her home and confesses his plans to go to America, then asks if she might visit him there. Alex sadly points out that whereas Bob believes that everything can remain the same, she has changed. Declaring she will not visit him abroad, does not want him to call and will not wait for him to return, Alex maintains she will not repeat her mother's life. Admitting she loves Bob, Alex nonetheless says she cannot abide his personal terms. Bob repeats that Alex demands too much of him and expresses regret at losing her. Feeling empathy with Daniel, Alex assures Bob she is not breaking with him over their relationship. That night, Daniel arrives home from the bar mitzvah to find Bob asleep in his bed. After the men make love, Daniel wonders if Bob will miss either him or Alex. Bob casually promises he will return. On Sunday, Bob departs, leaving Daniel's flat key behind. Later when Alex goes to visit the Hodsons, she sees Daniel's car outside and waits for him to leave. The couple meet on the street and share a moment of embarrassed laughter and mutual commiseration over Bob's cavalier departure that morning. That afternoon Alex returns home to find Bob has left her his pet toucan. Daniel resumes his Italian language practice and reflects that although he is aware of Bob's profound inadequacies as an emotional partner, the men did share something of worth.
Cast & Crew
|MPAA Ratings:||R||Premiere Info:||London opening: 28 Jun 1971; New York opening: 21 Sep 1971; Los Angeles opening: 29 Sep 1971|
|Release Date:||1971||Production Date:||
A John Schlesinger Film
AFI-DVD*, AFI Library VHS; Netflix, EB
|Color/B&W:||Color (DeLuxe)||Distributions Co:||United Artists Corp.|
|Sound:||Mono||Production Co:||Vectia Films, Ltd.|
|Duration(mins):||106 or 110-111||Country:||Great Britain and United States|
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Uncredited Daniel Day-Lewis cameo
"DDL" is one of the young vandals scratching cars, early on in the film.