DRAMA; 1hr 32min
STARRING: Jim Broadbent, Colin Firth, Juliet Stevenson, Matthew Beard
A driven man: from left, Broadbent and Beard
In its opening credits, this painfully frank film of writer Blake Morrison’s 1993 memoir is labelled “A True Story.” And there’s no doubting that Morrison’s issues-laden account of his relationship with his late dad (Jim Broadbent as Arthur Morrison) is how it was for him.
The story covers the 1950s to the ’80s, with feature newcomer Matthew Beard playing bookworm teen Blake, and Firth scowling petulantly as the resentful adult Blake becomes. Medico Arthur dominates throughout. Forceful, opinionated, bombastic, bossy, he hurts, infuriates and, perversely, occasionally beguiles. Only when Arthur dies of cancer — which seems to take forever — does Blake reach a point of resolution.
Bully for him! The cast put their collective heart into the gloom + doom, and director Anand Tucker (Hilary and Jackie) gives them so much room to emote. Morrison is clearly committed to spilling his beans. But since none of the characters — with the possible exception of Stevenson as Arthur’s doormat wife — is remotely sympathetic, the home-branded honesty hangs heavy.