Father & Son
As teenagers they embarrassed and annoyed us in the way they continually treated us like a child something which no matter how old you got they continued to do. And in a way it drove you apart, you were still fond of them but the way they acted was so annoying that you chose not to spend as much time with them as you could, believing they will always be there until all of a sudden they're not. I don't think I'm alone if I said my relationship with my father isn't close, he's from a different generation where father son bonding wasn't a thing nor dishing out praise for something well done. And it is that sort of relationship which is the basis of "And When Did You Last See Your Father?" a touching and thought provoking drama which makes you re-examine that relationship you have with your father.
When writer Blake Morrison's (Colin Firth - Nanny McPhee) father Arthur (Jim Broadbent - Hot Fuzz) is diagnosed with terminal cancer and is not given long to live Blake moves back home with his mother and sister to help care for him during the last few weeks. It forces Blake to face up to the distant relationship which he has with Arthur and being back home causes many painful memories of growing up to come flooding back. But in doing so it makes Blake realise things, things about himself and his father that he never realised growing up whilst also realising he wasted too much time by being annoyed at him.
There are countless brilliant scenes in "And When Did You Last See Your Father?" but there is one which if you can empathise with you will empathise with the entire movie. The scene features a teen Blake going camping with his dad and after telling his father that there are own pegs and no poles in the canvas bag Arthur tells him to move out of the way so he could look, leading to a roll of the eyes and a moment of annoyance for Blake. I know exactly how Blake felt, why didn't his dad just believe him, why did he have to think by looking himself he would magically find them and I am sure I am not alone in having that sort of experience. It is that sort of experience, and there are many including Arthur embarrassing Blake in front of young girls, which is the basis of much of the movie as it establishes what is a typical but trying relationships between a father and a son where the father always knows best.
What that means is that if you can empathise with how teen Blake feels you can also probably empathise with adult Blake, not just in the fact that Arthur still treats him the same, in an innocent but patronising manner, but in that feeling of distance between father and son. But trust me if you cam empathise with Blake then "And When Did You Last See Your Father?" will hit a nerve as alongside the story of young Blake we also have adult Blake dealing with his father dying and feeling remorse for not being closer. It means that whilst we have the painfully real but occasionally amusing drama of young Blake growing up we also have a thought provoking side as it makes you think about your own relationship with your father, always thinking they will be there and annoying you.
And briefly on the subject of painfully real whilst the focus of "And When Did You Last See Your Father?" is not on Arthur's demise to cancer if you have ever lost anyone to cancer it is also unsettling real. A scene which sees Arthur in bed, laboured breathing and unable to recognize anyone, just staring through them is quite a hard scene to take.
But that scene also leads me to what is wrong with "And When Did You Last See Your Father?" because in this touching scene they try and bring some gallows humour to soften it. It didn't work for me and neither did the other moments of gallows humour because they feel out of place in what otherwise is a brilliant and authentic drama.
What makes it so good is the writing and Blake Morrison's novel and David Nicholls' screenplay does a first rate job of recounting this strained father and son relationship. But the casting through out is perfect from Matthew Beard and Colin Firth playing various versions of Blake to Juliet Stevenson as Blake's mum Kim. And then there is Jim Broadbent as Arthur and it is Broadbent's performance which makes it so real because the aspect of knowing best, the attempts at humour and that innocent ability to annoy all reminded me of my father and it is because it is such a real character that "And When Did You Last See Your Father?" becomes very real.
What this all boils down to is that for me "And When Did You Last See Your Father?" was an amazingly touching and thought provoking movie which at times felt like it had been about my own relationship with my father. It is moving, brilliantly acted and simply real, so real that you will be thinking about spending more time with your own father.