And When Did You Last See Your Father?

And When Did You Last See Your Father?

Based on Blake Morrison's bestselling and influential memoir from 1993, about an ambiguous, painful reconciliation with his dying father.

Screenwriter David Nicholls' (Starter for 10) adaptation intercuts between the unendurable pathos of the father's deathbed and flashbacks of the son's childhood memories. Morrison's father Arthur (Broadbent) is a country GP with a rakish, raffish addiction to venial scams and dodges. Colin Firth plays the tight-lipped Blake, still needing closure after a lifetime's swallowed rage, and still seething at Arthur's blustering refusal to congratulate him on his successes in literary London.

Flicks Review

Serious actors, lush Yorkshire countryside, musings on mortality and morality… this is undeniably a quality drama. Whether you'll truly enjoy the experience or not is another matter though, and largely dependent on your age and your predilection towards slightly pompous Brits with daddy issues.

The performances are hard to fault. Colin Firth (Pride & Prejudice, Bridget Jones's Diary) plays regretful adult son Blake Morrison with controlled pathos, while in the flashbacks newcomer Matthew Beard gives the teenage Blake a believably awkward geekiness, gradually morphing into simmering rage as his dad humiliates him in public time and time again. But the film really belongs to veteran Jim Broadbent (also Bridget Jones's Diary), whose portrayal of the philandering father – getting up to all sorts of no good in his younger days and by stark contrast slowly wasting away from cancer in the '80s scenes – is both funny and almost unbearably moving, with strong support from Juliet Stevenson (Truly, Madly, Deeply) as his silently suffering wife.

Things unfold rather like a mature English version of Tim Burton's fantasy drama Big Fish, but this lacks the hope at the heart of that movie, leaving you instead with just a genuine feeling of sadness about the emotional estrangement of its main characters, and possibly the urge to hug the first old bloke you can find. It's a heartfelt film, impeccably acted, but it's not for everyone. And if you've experienced losing one of your own parents, make sure to take a box of tissues into the cinema – this will have you in floods.

The Peoples' Reviews

Average ratings from 7 ratings, 6 reviews
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An egotistical treatise in which i longed for a freshly painted wall to view. I loved the Alvis, it was immaculate.

Oh, it certainly didn't disappoint! Wonderful ambience, and really well acted. The cinematography was superb! Lovely!

this movie nearly made me fall asleep

some tranquilised me

I hope it may be all we expect to be, but one simply can't better Jim Broadbent, Colin Firth, or Juliet Stevenson. I think Matthew Beard certainly won't disappoint, either. And there are, of course, others who I am most looking forward to.

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The Press Reviews

  • BBC

    A writer seeks to bury the hatchet with his terminally ill dad in the powerful drama And When Did You Last See Your Father? Tim Burton took a fanciful approach to the same subject in Big Fish (2004), but director Anand Tucker has no need of bells and whistles, instead letting Colin Firth, and especially Jim Broadbent, enthral us with wonderfully vivid performances. As the teenage version of Firth's grumpy scribe, cheeky up-and-comer Matthew Beard is also one to watch. Full Review

  • The film did not provide me with fulfillment or a catharsis. Apparently the memoir wouldn't have, either. That's fair enough. How many unanswered questions are we all left with? I have some. This is a film of regret, and judging by what we see of the characters, it deserves to be. Full Review

  • Immaculately acted, professionally helmed and saturated in period British atmosphere, “When Did You Last See Your Father?” is an unashamed tearjerker that’s all wrapping and no center. Full Review

  • Directed by Anand Tucker with the same intelligent tact he brought to Hilary and Jackie, and cleanly adapted by David Nicholls from a brutally frank memoir by British writer Blake Morrison, this minor pleasure of a drama about an aggrieved son (Colin Firth in the Blake role) re-evaluating his relationship with his cantankerous old sod of a dying father (Jim Broadbent as Arthur Morrison) is the kind of superior middlebrow filmmaking at which the Brits excel. Full Review