If theres a more likeable British actor than Ralf Little I've yet to encounter him. A working class man's Kris Marshall, he has yet to rise significantly above his role in the much maligned sitcom Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of crisps (if you haven't seen it, don't ask). But in The Waiting Room he has found a sentimental British drama that suits his talents perfectly, and he has a supporting cast including the best names from across the British drama realm as well as the legendary Frank Finlay.
The movie does what British films have always done well — tell the story of ordinary people getting on with their ordinary lives. Care worker Stephen (Little) has moved in with his girlfriend and life seems fine, he moves on day by day as usual and is much loved by the elderly residents of the home he works in. Anna (Duff) is a single mum struggling to get by and, what's worse, she is having an affair with her neighbour/best friends husband. When care home resident Roger (Finlay) wanders off alone to the train station he causes a chance encounter between these two that seems unexceptional on the face of things, but in the minds of the two characters it sets off a chain of thoughts that affect all aspects of their lives.
The Waiting Room is a gentle and understated film, portraying its characters with care and attention and this strategy serves it well. The problems they face in their daily lives could easily have come across as so ordinary as to make the film a pain to sit through but instead I felt drawn into these people's worlds. This is of course partially to the credit of the actors, but the dialogue is so well written that every conversation seems completely natural and that is an often underrated talent.
Full of hope and oozing honesty, The Waiting Room is one of those small and unlauded films that, like its subject matter, could easily slip under the net for most of us who are bogged down in our own lives and like to escape to the cinema once in a while to forget it. And whilst this does make it a little unexceptional I think it would be a real shame if those sensitive souls out there looking for a nice heartwarming and hopeful film about real life don't give it a chance.