‘Letting go’ is never easy. No matter how traumatic an experience, how heartbreaking a loss, some find it virtually impossible to be free of its torment. Alan (Bill Nighy with a Scouse accent) is one such person. Obsessed with finding Michael, the son who has vanished from his life, he is untroubled by the corrosive effect his quest has had on his other son, Peter (Sam Riley). The film starts bleakly, with the pair having met to identify a body which might be that of the missing boy. In a hotel the night before, over a game of Scrabble – it provides the leitmotif of the movie – they befriend a couple who turn out to be in town for the same reason. And it’s at this point that you become aware of the off-beat humour that director Carl Hunter insinuates into so many scenes – the tale of the old lady who sold coal is a classic. It is visually jokey too, as Alan and Peter drive a little red Triumph through the countryside, but with the back-projection of passing trees accentuated for its fakery. Likewise, there are numerous shots where Hunter seems to have gone out of his way to unbalance or even discomfit the viewer through off-centre framing. Once you have adjusted to the visual style, which perfectly complements Nighy’s uniquely skewed delivery, you find that you have been drawn deeply into the story’s intimacy. Alan wins you over, as he does Peter’s wife Sue (Alice Lowe) and their teenage son, Jack (Louis Healy), whom he helps overcome shyness to woo the cute girl at the bus-stop. But the rift with Peter only widens. After Scrabbling online with an opponent whom he is convinced is Michael, Alan arranges a rendezvous. The ending, in which Alan belatedly discovers that he has not seen the forest for the trees, is a beautiful lesson for us all to be reminded of. With Nighy in top form and the ageless Jenny Agutter making a welcome return to the screen, this one is a beauty.
Support The Echo
Keeping the community together and the community voice loud and clear is what The Echo is about. More than ever we need your help to keep this voice alive and thriving in the community.
Like all businesses we are struggling to keep food on the table of all our local and hard working journalists, artists, sales, delivery and drudges who keep the news coming out to you both in the newspaper and online. If you can spare a few dollars a week – or maybe more – we would appreciate all the support you are able to give to keep the voice of independent, local journalism alive.