Saturday, 23 July 2011


This is a film that invites a high degree of self-reflection. It is poignantly moving, wonderfully edited and at times quirkily amusing. The film sees Ewan McGregor cast as the Hugh Grant-like Oliver. The film is a road movie - without the road! Oliver journeys back over his life, confronts his demons and in the end resolves to head in a given direction. I won't spoil the outcome for you.

A child of the 60's, Oliver works as an illustrator in a Design/PR company. When the film begins it is a couple of months after the death of his father. His mother had died five years previously. As far as we know, Oliver is an only child. Following the death of his mother and after 43 years of marriage, Oliver's father Hal (Christopher Plummer) 'comes out' and announces that he has known he was gay since the age of 13. This revelation destabilises Oliver who over time comes to accommodate this revelation.

In marriage, Hal was faithful to his wife for whom he performed 'satisfactorily'. Following her death, he sought partners and was not concerned about exclusive relationships. All of this sends Oliver's mind reeling as he tries to decipher the clues from his childhood and the contrast between his father as a husband and as a gay lover and activist. In the video flashbacks we never see his father - except from behind and then only fleetingly. We see lots of Oliver with his mother Georgia (Mary Page Keller) where the relationship seems to endlessly feature her pretending to shoot Oliver and the boy having to play dead.

As Oliver stuggles to make sense of who is as a product of this marriage the flashbacks repeatedly set events within their context inviting him and the viewer to reflect that was then, this is now. Eventually oliver emerges from the fug of confusion and sets course with new resolve. The vehicle for the this paradigm shift is Anna (Melanie Laurent) who stumbles onto his consulting couch at a fancy dress party where Oliver is hiding 
behind the disguise of Sigmund Freud. In the end it her perceptive empathy and offer of open love 
that provides the therapy that begins to unlock Oliver's heart and his ability to trust. Fearful of 
re-enacting the sham that was his parent's marriage, he cannot commit as he fears the pain of
it coming undone. The film is his wrestle with his journey and the trajectory that he feels destined
to follow. The journey for Oliver is a painful one. Arthur the Jack Russell Terrier and Andy (Goran 
Visnjic), Hal's younger boyfriend provide interesting additional twists and depth to the script.

It would be interesting to watch this alongside A Single Man and also Milk to which the film 
refers - both in terms of subject matter but also context and the time in which they are set.
I commend this film as a gentle, thoughtful, engaging and well-acted piece. Do go and see it.

I'll give it 7.5/10

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