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AND WHEN DID YOU LAST SEE YOUR FATHER?: DVD

SYNOPSIS:
When Arthur Morrison (Jim Broadbent) is diagnosed with terminal cancer he has only a few weeks left to live. His son Blake (Colin Firth) travels to Yorkshire to stay with his mother Kim (Juliet Stevenson) in the village where he grew up. He visits his father at the hospital where he had spent so much time with his own patients as a GP. As his father's condition worsens, Morrison contemplates their shared experiences, the intimacies and the irritations of their relationship. After his father's death Morrison regrets the nature of their relationship and their failure to understand each other.

Review by Louise Keller:
Jim Broadbent is wonderful in this screen adaptation of Blake Morrison's memoir about the life and times of his father to whom he pays tribute. He plays the father who could talk his way in and out of anything, seeming to be infallible, invincible and immortal. Colin Firth too, has great presence as the troubled son coming to terms with the love/hate relationship he had with his larger-than-life father. Grief, however, is difficult to portray without being morbid, and despite valiant efforts to follow in the footsteps of Big Fish, which swept us away with uplifting reminiscences and amusing anecdotes, this drama struggles to find its equilibrium.

The eyes through which we meet Jim Broadbent's gregarious Arthur change. Firstly they are the eyes of a youngster, who in part is fascinated by his extraverted father who everybody apparently loves. There's the mystery of his relationship with the ebullient Auntie Beaty (Sarah Lancashire) and the curiosity it causes for a lifetime. Embarrassment is coupled with resentment as Arthur pushes Blake out of his comfort zone and makes his adolescence a confronting one. He calls him 'fathead', makes his introductions to girls rather obvious and makes him feel clumsy. But there are joyous moments too, like the time he learns to drive by the sea. But throughout his younger days, we get a sense that Blake is an overtly serious child and a totally different personality to his fun-loving father. He is more empathetic with his badly done mother (Juliet Stevenson), who watches on the sidelines as Arthur plays Galahad to not only Beattie but a bevy of attractive females. The undercurrent throughout is of feelings of inferiority and disappointment - from both points of view, and when Firth's Blake is confronted by a terminally ill parent, he understandably goes through tempestuous emotions.

Director Anand Tucker handles the subject matter with respect and effectively makes use of mirrors to convey two personas for Blake. It is for us to assume what they are, although we can safely assume they comprise the man that Blake has become today as well as the child of yesterday. Parts of the film work better than others - the scenes in which Blake and his mother have to deal with the harsh facts of illness are pretty difficult to watch. The English countryside of West Sussex and Derbyshire are beautifully picturesque, and it is an engaging, if somewhat melancholy journey as we venture with Blake into the recollections of his past.

Published December 11, 2008

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 0
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 2

AND WHEN DID YOU LAST SEE YOUR FATHER?: DVD (M)
(UK, 2007)

CAST: Jim Broadbent, Colin Firth, Juliet Stevenson, Gina McKee, Sarah Lancashire, Elaine Cassidy, Claire Skinner, Matthew Beard, Bradley Johnson, Tom Butcher, Tara Berwin

PRODUCER: Elizabeth Karlsen, Stephen Woolley

DIRECTOR: Anand Tucker

SCRIPT: David Nicholls (book by Blake Morrison)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Howard Atherton

EDITOR: Trevor Waite

MUSIC: Barrington Pheloung

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Alice Normington

RUNNING TIME: 92 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Icon

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: July 31, 2008

PRESENTATION: Widescreen

SPECIAL FEATURES: Tba

DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Icon

DVD RELEASE: December 11, 2008







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