It is a story of passion which we see right in the beginning with sensuous sex. What is unusual about this film is that the dialogue is written for adults, and sounds like dialogue did back then. There are no obvious props of the time period screaming at you, "See, I am authentic. Notice me." Yet everything appears as it did at that time without any obviousness. None of that stuff so meticulously and boringly done by Francis Lawrence in Water For Elephants. Just wall paper looking depressing and fussy as it did then, the lighting subdued, the music on records a little scratchy and seductive.
At the same time we are seeing a sad love affair we are also seeing two people who are caught in seeing and feeling love and sex the way their world has taught them to see and feel it through the popular music. They are as caught up in playing their parts as we are now. They play two lovers caught up in playing lovers as suggested in all the romantic songs of their era, perfectly chosen.
They are as caught as Eric Packer is caught in his screens.
Only Weisz's character Hester begins to see through this charade. She is experiencing a deep passion in her body and mind. She has succumbed to the template of Iseult: passion love and death. She knows Freddie is playing a role and she isn't. It is real for her and she knows it is not for him. And this begins to eat at her and destroy her. Her affection for her husband is real, and as his affection for her grows, he is still unable to break out of his conditioning, the Inscription of His Body and Mind to claim her.
So we see her abandoned and sobbing at the end, not knowing what she will do next. An ambiguous ending. A film so perfectly done it might really be 70 years old. An original - not a counterfeit, a copy or a simulacrum - an original filmed in our own time, by a filmmaker who has not forgotten what it means to see.