2007, UK-Ireland, 92 min.
Writer Blake Morrison (Colin Firth) is permanently exasperated by his elderly father, Arthur (Jim Broadbent), a bellicose, overbearing doctor whose love for his son comes couched in passive-aggressive barbs. “It’s plastic,” Arthur, long skeptical of his son’s profession, observes after Blake wins a writing award. When Arthur grows seriously ill, Blake returns to his childhood home and is prompted to review their past. The plot toggles between Arthur’s inevitable, unglamorous decline and the early 1960s, when Blake and Arthur’s relationship unravels as the increasingly independent teenager sees his father’s brio and rapport with women as critical shortcomings. Oscar winners Broadbent and Firth are excellent, and director Anand Tucker doesn’t sugarcoat the Morrison men’s sometimes contentious rapport. There will be no gooey bedside chat, so Blake must come to terms with his father’s love without one party providing guidance. This might be one of the best movies in recent memory that covers the exquisite difficulty of viewing a parent as a person, not as a myth.