“When we are young, we want emotions to be like what we read in books“. So says the narrator and lead character Tony Webster (as played by Jim Broadbent). Tony runs a tiny second hand camera store (specializing in Leica models) while leading a mostly benign life – rising daily at 7:00am, coffee with his ex-wife, and periodic errands for his pregnant daughter. One day a certified letter arrives notifying him that he has been named in the Last Will and Testament of the mother of a girl he dated while at University. And so begins the trek back through Tony’s history and memories.
Curmudgeonly Tony is accessible and somewhat sympathetic thanks to the stellar work of Mr Broadbent, who always seems to find the real person within his characters. Harriet Walter turns in a tremendous performance as Margaret, Tony’s most patient and quite wise ex-wife. Michelle Dockery is their pregnant 36 year old daughter Susie, and just these three characters could have provided a most interesting story. The film’s best scenes feature the comfort and familiarity of a once-married couple, as Tony and Harriet talk through previously never mentioned topics. However, there is so much more to explore here as Tony’s thoughts bring the past splashing right smack dab into the present.
Looking back on one’s life can lead to the twisted version that our mind has edited/revised in order to make things seem better or worse – definitely Tony’s distorted view of history crumbles when documented proof of his actions is presented at his first face to face meeting with Veronica (the great Charlotte Rampling) in five decades. It’s at this point that regret and guilt rise up, and the only question remaining is whether this elderly man can overcome his repressed emotions and self-centeredness in order to make the best of what time he has left. Each of us has a life journey, and though few of us ever actually tell the story, there are undoubtedly numerous lessons to be had with an honest look back.
Special Features include a very short EPK asking various members of the cast what they could tell their 21 year old self. Also included is just under 2 HOURS of interviews with the cast and crew. There is some overlapping info but they are still worth a watch, I would just recommend in cherry picking the ones from the people you really want to hear from.
Drama, Mystery | UK, 2017 | 15 | 14th August 2017 (UK) | Studiocanal UK | Dir.Ritesh Batra | Jim Broadbent, Charlotte Rampling, Harriet Walter, Emily Mortimer, Michelle Dockery | Buy: [Blu-ray]