Saturday, 9 October 2010

Day 282, on which John goes retro [9.10.10]

Dag to hundrede toogfirs. Saturdays are great. I returned to my drama club after 3 weeks today, and it was great to be back. Doing silly actor-like things. But fun, of course. Then I got home, realised I didn't have enough time to write a sufficient amount of Cronas 13 (which I'm still working hard at, don't you forget), so photographed a bunch of MOCs that I really need to disassemble. Now I can take 'em apart and get my collection back. Phew. I built a bunch of retro minifigs using torsos from old Lego themes, and you can see them here. That's the reason for the title.

Matti said I should do more movie reviews and, cause I think that's a good idea and cause our 20-day challenge is reviews, I have another movie review here for you to sample. Enjoy.

Today I finished watching the emotional British drama When did you last see your father?, which is actually much more interesting that that previous clause suggests. With Colin Firth leading a cast of very well-known British actors and actresses, including Jim Broadbent and the unstoppable Carey Mulligan (An Education) who has a cameo role.

Colin Firth in When did you last see your father?
And when did you last see your father? is a touching and moving drama about Blake, a successful poet and writer played by Colin Firth, and his relationship with his father, Jim Broadbent. His father is a dishonest doctor, who seems charming and witty to everyone else, but is infact cheating on his wife and can be a very unfavourable person, particularly to Blake. However, Blake's father is dying and he returns to the family home for the last days of his life, whilst reliving his teenage experiences with his father, coming to terms with who his father really is.

The film throws you in at the deep end right from the beginning, so it can seem a bit of a shock since you're chucked straight in the middle of a continuous storyline and have to grapple with flashbacks and characters who you don't yet know. However, about twenty minutes down the line, you finally settle in to the pace of the story and you're transported into Firth's character and his dislikable yet charming father, who is now in his deathbed, practically incoherent.

This film is honest, genuine and emotionally powerful, yet it conducts itself with a very light touch: the scenes of grief are very moving (almost brought a tear to my eye), but they're not overdone and they're very well maintained so they seem realistic (the film is based off a book by the real Blake). It's all in the script, really, but the acting from Blake's family is spot-on, enough to seem believable, because they all underact. It's all understated and realistically staged, just like normal family conversations.

Colin Firth may seem like the actor who holds the film together, but I think that responsibility lies between both him and Jim Broadbent (who plays his father), who both give out stellar performances. Just because Firth has to show grief and sadness doesn't mean he acts better than Broadbent, who plays Blake's father in several stages of his life. The supporting actors shine in their own ways - Blake's mother is particularly well portrayed, and the young man who plays Blake in his teenage years does well too (though he doesn't do anything spectacular). As I mentioned before, Carey Mulligan pops in for a cameo role as a love interest for the teenage Blake. She does nothing special, but I like Carey Mulligan so it's good to see her in other things. Fun fact: the boy who plays the teenage Blake in When did you last see your father? was also in An Education as the teenager Graham who asks Carey Mulligan's character out. So they're acting together in two films now, and it's no wonder why they pair them together. If you want a posh 1960s teenage couple, they're perfect.

The cinematography in When did you last see your father? is skillfully done to say the least. I'm pretty sure it's the same cinematographer that did Brick Lane, another Film4 British film. There's a lot of genius angles showing the characters in mirrors, sometimes doubled up (see above), and sometimes with some characters in mirrors with other characters seen normally. The use of mirror shots changes throughout the film depending on the plot, which I was glad to see. However, there are a lot of camera angles looking though frames - doors, windows, any sort of glass - and it becomes a bit too intense as a result. The shots are very close; very personal, which is exactly what you need in a film so focused on humans and emotions. It's no wonder you barely see a wide shot (WS) in the film. The colours are subdued, the lighting spot-on. I applaud the cinematographer. There's also a dolly zoom when Blake sees his father die (I'm not spoiling it for you; the whole plot of the film is running up to his death) which is combined with putting Firth on a dolly, hovering away from his father through the doorframe. A very powerful technique, and the first time I've seen a dolly zoom and putting the character on a dolly used together.

When did you last see your father is not a film you can just sit down and watch for a laugh. You've got to be in the mood, that's for sure. And if you are in the mood, it'll drag you in and entertain you and move you for two of the best hours of film you'll ever see. It's emotional, it's powerful, it's realistic, and it's definitely worth a watch. Even my mum related it to when my granddad died, which is proof that the film is realistic and can stir up emotions within you. Whilst it is a bit of a roller coaster ride that can seem a bit too much at times, I think it still deserve five Js.



Stickman said...

Nice. But it's October, not November: see last 3 posts, too.

John said...

Ah yes, I just realised that myself. It's all fixed now. Tak :)