Emily Watson as Anne

Separate Lies, 2005, directed by Julian Fellowes, starts when a hit and run accident kills the husband of the of a wealthy couple’s maid (Linda Bassett). This takes place near the couple’s idyllic country home in Buckinghamshire, England. The wife, Anne (Emily Watson), is driving the car of her lover, Bill (Rupert Everett), at the time. They and Anne’s husband, James (Tom Wilkinson), a business lawyer, cover this up when the inspector comes around and wonders why Bill’s car has a scratch on it.

The two main characters are clear Enneagram types—the 1-Perfectionist, James, and the 2-Helper, Anne. James is busy striving at his office and going over details meticulously, and assumes his marriage is a happy one. Meanwhile, though, Anne feels he diminishes her, that she will never be the wife he wants her to be. She can’t be herself around him. He is too critical. She feels she always disappoints him. On the other hand, with Bill she feels accepted, wanted, and needed. He’s easy to be with and doesn’t want anything from her.


Anne and James

Anne and James (Tom Wilkinson)

James’ co-worker tells him, “You’ve just got to learn to let go.” It’s true—James gets obsessed about things, such as compulsively straightening pictures, in typical Perfectionist fashion. He asks Anne if she’s cooked his egg exactly five minutes. When she offers him a choice of three scrumptious sounding desserts, he rejects them all and wants cheese instead. James tells Bill, “At the risk of sounding stuffy, I like to do the right thing.”

In one scene in the kitchen, Anne is chopping avocados and arranging a fancy salad while she confesses her role in the death to James. She also admits to her affair. After James asks her if she’s really going to use THAT bowl, she lifts the large salad up and smashes it to the ground. When James asks, “What do you want to do?” in typical Helper fashion Anne responds, “What do YOU want to do?” She feels she’s guilty and should be punished. But if they pretend she wasn’t involved maybe she won’t have to go to jail. As the tension increases, Anne says, “I just want everybody to be happy.”

Bill, the lover, is probablly a 9-Peace Seeker. He doesn’t care about his appearance and he usually goes along with what others want. He’s anything but fastidious. We see him wearing dirty and faded blue jeans and lolling around, arms and legs everywhere. His 8-Asserter wing probably accounts for some of his anti-authoritarian, unconventional, and amoral actions. When James straightens one of his own pictures, Bill takes the opportunity to insult the painting and the relative it portrays.


Bill and Anne

Bill (Rupert Everett) and Anne

If Anne wants to live a more truthful and balanced life, she will need to do a better job letting others know what she needs and not suffer in silence. James will need to learn the negative affect expressing a morally superior stance has on others.

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