Starring: Colin Firth, Jim Broadbent. Directed by: Anand Tucker. (1hr 32mins)
“MY father seemed to me infallible, invincible, immortal.”
So says Blake (Colin Firth), the narrator of And When Did You Last See Your Father? as he sifts through fractured memories of his terminally ill old man, searching for a way to reconcile with the fragile patriarch whose tough love scarred him in his formative years.
Adapted by David Nicholls from Blake Morrison’s novel of the same name, Anand Tucker’s sentimental portrait of a dysfunctional father-son relationship cuts back and forth between the present and the past.
Tender scenes of intimacy between father and boy contrast with embarrassing vignettes which ignite the son’s simmering resentment. These recollections are interspersed with upsetting scenes of the father’s physical decline in the present day.
Estranged from his domineering father Arthur (Jim Broadbent) and now happily married, 40-year-old author Blake continues to avoid healing the wounds of his past. When Arthur is diagnosed with terminal cancer, Blake is compelled to return to the Yorkshire Dales of his youth to reconnect with his father and the rest of the clan.
This is a bittersweet and, at times, moving account of the strained family ties which define each and every one of us. Young actor Matthew Beard is sensational as the socially awkward Blake in the flashback scenes and his chemistry with Broadbent’s domineering father is electric.