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When Love Dies (1990)


Warning: screenonline full synopses contain 'spoilers' which give away key plot points. Don't read on if you don't want to know the ending!

23 year-old Richard marries Annabel, surrounded by family, including Annabel's two younger brothers and a sister. Years later, Annabel's grown-up brothers and sister chase and then violently assault a broken, cowering Richard in a cemetery.

Richard escapes and runs home. Lying alone in the empty house, he relives memories of his broken marriage. He has visions of his wife, on the other side of the road, accompanied by their three children; she waves goodbye. He imagines he has stopped breathing. A woman across the road waves and laughs at Richard.

Elsewhere in the house, Richard's mother, Bella, catches her granddaughter, Emily, sneaking out to meet a white boy on a motorbike.

Richard continues his visions and arguments with his ex-wife. How could she abandon twelve years of marriage? The three attackers come to the front door, prompting Richard's father, Charles, to bang on his door, asking him to stop disgracing him and collect his own mail. Richard ignores him, locked in his visions.

Times passes. On the other side of the door Arnold, Richard's brother and Emily's father, decorates the hallway. He is talking to Bella when Charles interrupts. He laughs when Arnold calls him dad.

A ghostly Annabel appears to Richard. She is in hospital. He explains that he was working hard, which is how he lost her. She begins to cry when talk turns to the children. He shows her a letter from her siblings threatening to kill him. Her tablets are making her tired.

Arnold is still struggling with the decorating when he meets his daughter, Emily, who ignores him and calls Charles father. Charles confronts Bella, insisting she tell the children, including the deranged Richard, that he is not their father.

Bella explains to Emily that she upset Arnold. But Emily is angry at being abandoned 15 years ago.

Annabel tells Richard of her unhappiness at having to leave her career and being abandoned with the children, while Richard, who wanted the children to prove his manhood, was unemployed with few prospects. Outside, Arnold falls over and has to employ someone else to finish decorating the corridor.

Richard defends himself, pleading the pressure of being a black man and the disapproval of her parents. The Pastor arrives. As nobody answers the front door, he pops his head into Richard's room and is nearly strangled by Richard.

The Pastor escapes and talks patronisingly to Bella. She reminds him that he is the father of her two sons. He backs off - he doesn't want this known; he has too much to lose. In return for her silence, Bella demands he place a bet for her.

In his room, Richard is tormented again by Annabel's siblings. Annabel accuses Richard of killing her mother, who suffered a fatal heart attack after Richard put a brick through her window.

Motorbike obsessed Emily talks with her teacher at school. He finds her family strange.

Richard and Annabel continue arguing. She is angry about being locked in a mental institution. Arnold hears him outside and sees Annabel's ghost. It causes an accident with the new decorator.

Emily has stolen Charles' money, but denies it. Charles quarrels with Bella about the Pastor. Emily goes to make it up with Charles by snuggling up to him in the sitting room. He becomes uncomfortable, turning off the TV. Emily becomes upset. When Bella takes Emily's side, Charles takes his TV, as they laugh after him struggling up the stairs. Bella asks Emily about the young man on the motorbike. Emily asks Bella why she married grandfather. Bella is evasive.

The Pastor returns with Bella's winnings but keeps his distance from Bella. Meanwhile, Annabel says a final goodbye to Richard.

In the corridor, Arnold finishes cleaning. He starts to leave. Bella gives him her winnings. She wants to accompany him outside but can't leave the house. Arnold walks out. It is raining in the street; he sees Emily, and they share her umbrella.

Richard is at Annabel's graveside. He tells her that the children placed in care are back home where they should be. As he talks he is surrounded by Annabel's brothers and sister - ready to attack and assault him again.