Life & Culture

Film review: The Affair

This wartime drama is a flop, says Linda Marric


Set in 1930s Czechoslovakia, director Julius Ševcík’s new film The Affair is based on Simon Mawer’s Booker Prize nominated novel The Glass Room. Adapted by Andrew Shaw, this war-time drama centres around two women linked by a lifelong friendship and an extraordinary house.

In the 1930s, Liesel (Hanna Alström) and Viktor (The Square’s Claes Bang) Landauer, a wealthy newlywed couple enlist the famous architect Von Abt to build a house for them. The Landauers’ house — based on the Villa Tugendhat — is soon regarded as the nec plus ultra in minimalist architecture.

When the Nazis invade Czechoslovakia, Liesel and Viktor, who is Jewish, have no other option but to flee the country with their children in tow. Meanwhile Liesel’s best friend Hana (Carice van Houten) who is also married to a Jew and who has romantic feelings for her best friend, stays behind and faces the horrors of occupation, first by the Nazis and later at the hands of the Soviet forces.

While the architectural aspects of the story make for a very pretty movie to look at, The Affair often feels like a series of stills from an interiors magazine rather than a movie about one of the most harrowing episodes in European history. Ševcík’s adaptation fails to capture Mawer’s beautifully subtle and evocative writing. Although peppered with some decent performances throughout, especially from Hanna Alström, The Affair, unfortunately for all involved, is an overlong, drab and meandering mess.

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