20 September 2007 | emuir-1
Superb, riveting drama for a wet weekend.
I never cease to be amazed at what one finds in the local library in a small town in Florida. During a wet few days, due to a stalled hurricane, I borrowed a DVD with Timothy Spall's name on the box expecting it to be a two hour movie. Was I ever surprised! This was one of the most riveting stories I have ever seen, and I watched the entire saga in one sitting.
As the extended family gathered for a all-expenses paid reunion at a London hotel, the characters meet other relatives whom they had either not known about or had little contact with. The family had once been wealthy and successful, but as subsequent generations branched off, some had fallen on hard times. They begin to discover their similarities. Michael Gambon was superb as the black sheep son who had lost the business his father had built up when he ventured out on his own. When he has to stay at his cousin Ernest's London flat to recuperate after a collapse, he finds that his cousin shares his taste in British war movies starring Jack Hawkins.
Matthew McFaddeyn played the son who had no idea that he was related to a wealthy family. Upon meeting them he is taken with the kind of wealthy upper middle class life he could have had.
Timothy Spall played the more than slightly disreputable cousin into various questionable ventures with the oily charm of a junk car dealer from the wrong side of town. He sees the reunion as a business networking opportunity.
The three eccentric old aunts played by veteran British actresses of the 40's and 50's, at least one of whom starred in a Jack Hawkins film. Anton Lesser was the historian who uncovered many of the family secrets and lies which affect future generations and some of which are a repeated trait.
The performances are brilliant. My only reason for not rating this film a 10 is that the back stories somehow seem to interrupt the flow of the present day story. I realize that the stories of the past are essential to the narrative, yet they seemed out of place.
I will definitely be viewing this for a second time.