Shadowlands is the story, based on fact, of an autumnal romance involving the British writer C. S. Lewis and a divorced American woman named Joy Gresham. They met after she wrote him an admiring letter; their correspondence led to her first visit to England, with her young son. Lewis received her as a courtesy, and was so settled in his lifelong professorial routine that he hardly knew what to do when it became clear, even to him, that he was in love (…) Anthony Hopkins, who last year in Remains of the Day gave a brilliant performance as a closed-off English butler who was afraid to love, here provides a companion performance, of a buttoned-down English intellectual who surprises himself by finding the courage to love. Debra Winger, not afraid to look less than her best in early scenes (although her beauty glows later on in the film), is no less extraordinary: She projects a quiet empathy in creating Joy Gresham, a woman who has fallen in love with Lewis through his writings. Her character goes through a series of delicate adjustments as she meets him and realizes he is not as contented as he thinks. She believes that making one another happier is one of their purposes on earth. His ability to share that view is a small triumph, but one few people can claim. — Roger Ebert, 1994.

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