Alan (Bill Nighy) is a Merseyside tailor, whose eldest son Michael stormed out of the house after a particularly heated round of Scrabble and never returned. Now, Alan and his other son Peter (Sam Riley) continue the search while trying to repair their own strained relationship.
Review by Louise Keller: Don't lose sight of what you already have when searching for the elusive dream is the moral of this drama that explores the complex relationship between father and son. Screenwriter Frank Cottrell-Boyce (The Railway Man, Goodbye Christopher Robin) has penned a subtle work whose strength is the imagery director Carl Hunter proffers. The film has a particular visual style with figures shot through doorways and windows and awkward pauses, as if the echo the awkward central relationships.
Always interesting onscreen, Nighy delivers a wonderfully subtle performance, but somehow the film never satisfies. The film is a road trip - literally and emotionally. The dramatic arc makes headway at times and the performances are all excellent, but I was kept at arms length throughout.
The film begins well and the use of Scrabble as a plot point is novel when there is more at stake than the score. I love the scene when Alan (Nighy) shows his fanaticism by hustling the couple he and younger son Peter (Sam Riley, well cast) meet. And while you might argue that you can never have enough Scrabble, it can become too much of a good thing.
We quickly get a sense of the strained relationship between Alan and Peter, who can never live up to his missing sibling, Michael, whose disappearance during a game of Scrabble could never be explained. Dealing with loss, searching for answers and finding a way to make the most of what you have are the key themes. It is the relationship between Alan and Peter that forms the heart of the film.
The tailor's mantra of Sometimes Always Never (when it comes to leaving a suit's buttons undone) is explained, but its relevance is lost on me.