Hope Gap review: Think the marriage is painful? Listen for the English accent…

In this star-studded drama, something’s not working. On paper, it’s the relationship between a married couple (Annette Bening and Bill Nighy). In practice, it’s Bening’s English accent which proves beyond repair.
The 62-year-old American should be just right as the intellectual Grace, married to Edward for 29 years and now defiantly unhappy. Grace potters around her elegant home on the South Coast, fitfully attacking her spouse because he doesn’t make her feel loved.
Bening gets some very good lines. So does Nighy, who shines in scenes that allow us to see beyond Edward’s put-upon veneer. When he shares a secret with his twentysomething son (Josh O’Connor), and later Grace herself, Hope Gap threatens to become a raw and wrenching portrait of a man and woman expert at causing each other pain.
Unfortunately, Oscar-nominated writer-director William Nicholson (adapting his semi-autobiographical 1999 play) squanders the energy generated by these scenes.
Too many of the lines that follow ring false, the camerawork is insipid, and that bloody accent, if anything, gets worse (at times, Grace sounds like a Scandinavian expat). Americans who’ve never met a real-life English person may be fooled.
Diehard fans of Nicholson will probably suck it up. For the rest of us, this is hopeless.