Adapted from J.R. Ackerley's novel by writer Hugh Stoddart and director Colin Gregg, this is a pleasant if unexciting example of British realism, as applied to a rather odd story set in the early 1950s. The central character is a solitary literary editor named Frank (Alan Bates), a semiautobiographical stand-in for Ackerley, whose former lover Johnny (Gary Oldman) is in jail. Much of the film focuses on Frank's strained relations with Johnny's working-class parents and wife (Frances Barber), with particular importance given to his gradually assuming responsibility for Johnny's neglected German shepherd, Evie, who ultimately seems to become a kind of surrogate for Johnny. Modest in every respect, this well-acted comedy-drama does have its share of good dog scenes, as well as one of the ugliest babies in movies. With Liz Smith, Max Wall, and Kerry Wise.