Atmospheric yet strangely detached British film about an adult brother and sister who, after several years of separation, embark on an illicit sexual affair one summer. Natalie (Saskia Reeves) has always felt in the shadow of her younger, more self-confident, successful sibling Richard (Clive Owen) and is bored in her marriage to the rich, eccentric, upper-class Sinclair (Alan Rickman- who provides welcome comic relief in an otherwise quite serious and brooding film). At first the siblings reignite the friendship they lost when they were separated, but their physical attraction is obvious and Natalie begins to instigate a full-blown affair. The last two thirds of the film deal with the emotional fallout as Richard starts to be become obsessed with his sister, and the balance of power in their relationship shifts.
Poliakoff's film deserves credit for its serious, adult approach to a difficult subject. It's also well-photographed and has a subtext about the cold urban redevelopment of London and the stiff conformity of modern life, from which the lovers are, in part, escaping. However, for me, the script (also by Poliakoff) fails to really get to the bottom of the relationship, and its attempt to be something more than a psychosexual drama falls a bit short. Clive Owen is good in an early role, and the whole film looks good visually, but I just felt something was missing, and the climax is something of a cop-out.
There are some blistering sex scenes, which show the incestuous affair in all its shocking glory, and some nice bits of humour to level things out, but overall the script just doesn't do the subject justice. Still, it's one of the better, more realistic films to have tackled incest and a good British film of its era.
This DVD reissue has interviews with the director and members of the cast, which are thorough and interesting.