Shadowlands is a good time-killer, and that's about all it is. The sole redeeming quality of the movie lies in the fact that Anthony Hopkins plays the lead (which was a wise choice). I'd say this is another hit movie for him---just another laurel to add to his wreath.
The movie is based on a true story that happened in Oxford in the fifties (where John Moult, my mentor and companion to the movie, was at the time this story happened) between reputed British academician C.S. Lewis and his American wife, poet Joy Gresham. The couple are no spring chickens, but romance transcends age. Hopkins plays Jack (which was adopted in favour of Clive) Lewis, the noted academician who doesn't believe in love and who always has an answer for any question posed to him. Debra Winger plays Joy Gresham, a divorced American who falls for Lewis after reading his writings. (Lewis is the author of famous works such as The Chronicles of Narnia, and the Out of the Silent Planet trilogy.) The romance between the two, which begins with correspondence, blossoms as Gresham crosses the Atlantic to meet Lewis. When Gresham is later diagnosed with advanced bone cancer and reveals this to Lewis, Lewis finds that he doesn't have all the answers after all.
While the movie is based on a true-life story, any real-life event is subject to (mis-)interpretation by its observers, and I found this movie interpretation highly unrealistic. The relationship we're seeing is what writer William Nicholson envisages the relationship between Gresham and Lewis to be. And the Lewis we're seeing is what Anthony Hopkins portrays to the audience. As I argued with my mentor and the others later, there is no such thing as altruistic love, and even if there is, you need to be a bachelor for more than 50 years and find someone with cancer. This belief is based on knowledge of the propagation of genes, and the process of evolution and natural selection.
It's a fine film. But I am too cynical for it. I almost started laughing at the scene where Lewis cries after Gresham dies.
There is a quote in the movie that goes: "We all read to know that we are not alone. We all love to know that we are not alone." I have this to say in response: "Love is speculative fiction, best left to the likes of Harlan Ellison."