What We Did On Our Holiday

It was a throwaway line from Mister Turner that boomeranged back into my head while watching this altogether adorable film; ‘no good deed goes unpunished’.

The McLeods are just another modern family falling apart.

Doug and Abi (David Tennant and the gorgeous Rosamund Pike, nice again after her murderous ways in ‘Gone Girl’) have reached the end of their tether and are in the process of divorcing.

For their three children, Lottie, Mickey and Jess, life goes on in its ever-unpredictable manner.

When they drive from London to Scotland for the seventy-fifth birthday celebrations of their granddad Gordy (Billy Connolly), the kids are instructed to not let on about the domestic upheaval – for sophisticated grown-ups, the truth is best kept hidden.

Of course that doesn’t happen, as Gordy, dying with cancer, creates the miraculous arc between old age and extreme youth that puts into perspective the white noise of all those frenetic, self-absorbed years in between.

The child actors, Emilia Jones, Bobby Smalldridge and Harriet Turnbull, are neither cloying nor worldly – though Mickey, obsessed with Vikings, does know from Silent Witness that dead people can fart.

What they do in response to an unforeseen (by me, anyway) turning point in the story is so heart-warming and right, but so wrong by contemporary society’s stitched-up strictures, that the plans for Gordy’s big day are thrown into chaos and controversy.

This is a warm and wise movie, and thankfully direct in its telling.

The fact that Connolly in real life is suffering from a terminal illness makes doubly poignant the moment on the deserted beach when Gordy tells his fretful wee lassie Lottie that the toil and trouble we daily encounter ‘doesn’t really matter’ – he says it so genuinely as though it were entirely unscripted.

The Scottish Highlands are a backdrop of rugged melancholy, a delightful diversion involves another grandson, Kenneth, falling for the girl playing violin in the hired band, and the kids teaching themselves to drive in a crisis is pure gold.

Don’t miss it.

~ John Campbell  


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