I’ve been asked to be a regular contributor for HerCanberra, though it does make me…
Doug (David Tennant) and Abi (Rosamund Pike) and their three children travel to the Scottish Highlands for Doug’s father Gordie’s (Billy Connolly) birthday party. It’s soon clear that when it comes to keeping a secret under wraps from the rest of the family, their children are their biggest liability… imdb
Although this film has only limited release in Canberra (Palace, Manuka and Tuggeranong) it is worth the extra effort to see it. I missed it during the British Film Festival last year so I have been hanging out for the general release. I was not disappointed.
Although an unkind reviewer might call the humour ‘arch’ I would say it is wordy, British and quite brilliant. A real actors’ movie – character driven to the last credit.
And David Tennant is in it – who doesn’t want to see one of Britain’s most awarded stage actors … who just happens to have a sideline in superhot Timelord?
Mind you, if Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl) is more your crush I must warn you your brain might be paralysed – she is incandescent. She portrays a thin, gorgeous, super mum who is paddling like hell just to keep up with her kids. She handles all the jokes well, without letting one strand of her natural elegance slip. Enough to make you sick really.
Her character is all about keeping life calm and normal for her three children as she divorces her ‘shambles’ of a husband, Doug (only dogs would be able to hear the twang of her stretched nerves). Their problems are compounded because they don’t want Doug’s sick dad to know how bad their home life has become so they stress out their kids with which lie to say when. Of course, disaster cannot be far away.
The three kids are terrific. They are natural but with perfect comic timing and just the right mix of mischief and gravity. The car trip to Scotland sets the tone for the whole film and was a tonic after a hard day at work, I laughed like a drain! I also kept imagining ‘Show and Tell’ after the holiday break with glee.
Ben Miller (Death in Paradise) is a generously broad foil to Doug and Abi’s pent up chaos as Doug’s domineering brother but Amelia Bullmore as his wife almost steals the show.
Billy Connolly gives a quiet but provocative performance, especially after he stops moving. That is when the movie becomes quite dark but somehow, for me, it still retained a purity of spirit that helped me accept and go along with events. Then the slapstick returned and we were set to rights.
Light, despite the dark, sad despite the gags and uplifting despite some downbeat subject matter it is quite a balancing act for writer/directors Andy Hamilton and Guy Jenkin. However they have been working together since Not the Nine O’Clock News wa-ay back in the ‘80s so they must good at balancing … is anyone but me old enough to remember that show? It is so old it starred Rowan Atkinson long before anyone had any idea who he was.
A final comment on the movie. Even if, by some unlucky chance, you don’t enjoy the story this film is worth seeing for the Scottish exteriors. Majestic.