Film review – And When Did You Last See Your Father? (2007)

The English are reputedly pretty bad at expressing their feelings, which is why this gentle yet heartfelt English drama, based on the memoirs of poet Blake Morrison, is so impressive. Not only does it convincingly convey the relationship between two emotionally restrained men but it is also a profoundly moving film that never resorts to sentiment.

Colin Firth plays Blake, a successful author whose childhood embarrassments and annoyances towards his father have manifested into deep resentment as an adult. While Jim Broadbent was the ideal father figure in Bridget Jones’s Diary, as Blake’s father Arthur, he is overbearing and critical. When Arthur discovers he has terminal cancer, Blake takes care of him while confronting his own memories and conflicted feelings.

Seeing this film may sound like a completely depressing experience but it truly is not. Firth and Broadbent gives consummate performances while director Anand Tucker (Shopgirl) maintains a graceful pace to ensure that the film’s full emotional charge does not hit until the end. The final moments are so reassuring and dignified that it will potentially provide great comfort to many people who relate to the painful dynamics in this difficult father-son relationship. 

Originally appeared in The Big Issue, No. 309, 2008

© Thomas Caldwell, 2008


  1. Hey Thomas I worked on this film. Yay! Did you see my name in the credits? Hahaha. That aside I reckon it’s a fab movie. Anand is a very talented director….

  2. Congratulations on being involved on such a tremendous film! I’ve really enjoyed all of Anand Tucker’s films that I’ve seen, but I reckon this one is his best so far.

    Here’s a random piece of trivia: I saw this film at The Curzon Community Cinema in Clevedon, which is about half a days bicycle ride from Bristol where I was living at the time. The cinema is “the oldest, purpose-built, continuously operated cinema in the World”. So it’s not actually the oldest cinema (that’s in the south of France and I went there too!) but it is the oldest one that is still operating as a cinema. How cool is that?

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