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