During the war, when Jack is eight, he is put on a train by his mother Emily to stay with his grandmother. When he arrives, he is told that his mother has died in an accident. For eight years, he lives with his grief. At Jack's sixteenth birthday party, Nancy Ackerman from Sweden turns up unexpectedly, and everyone is shocked by her striking resemblance to Emily. She even wears the same pearls that Emily wore.

What could have been a powerful story of redemption is reduced to a formulaic coming-of-age film.

It's 1944 and Jack Bradley, Rollo Weeks, is on his way to his grandmother's for his eighth birthday. After putting him on the train, his mother Emily, is killed when a Spitfire crashes. Eight years later, celebrating his 16th birthday, a beautiful stranger arrives. She looks just like his mother, and she wears an identical string of pearls. The emotional shockwaves that hit the family, dislodge some long hidden indiscretions. Jack and his relatives are changed forever.

Director Nutley and his long time cinematographer Yens Fischer create a lush period piece that's been compared to Merchant Ivory films. Helena Bergstrom gives a superb performance in her dual roles as Emily, and the stranger Nancy. But she's hampered by a predictable storyline. I found the central mystery extremely frustrating, taking much too long to unravel, and became entangled in its many subplots. What could have been a powerful story of redemption is reduced to a formula coming of age film.



2 hours 3 min