A devastating performance by Olivia Williams (Rushmore) anchors this emotionally complex British drama based on Rosamund Lehmann’s 1953 novel The Echoing Grove. The plot centers on a handsome London businessman (Paul Bettany) who leaves his proper, rather acerbic wife (Williams) to pursue a life-affirming romance with her free-spirited younger sister (Helena Bonham Carter). The magisterial Eleanor Bron plays the sisters’ mother, who derails the affair for her grandson’s sake but ends up compounding the misery of everyone involved. Scripted by Lucinda Coxon and directed by Thaddeus O’Sullivan, this 2002 drawing-room tragedy has some trouble negotiating its frequent time shifts between the pre- and post-World War II eras, but its intelligent characterizations make it one of the best movies I’ve seen this year. 96 min. Esquire.