WHEN DID YOU LAST SEE YOUR FATHER? (Anand Tucker). 92 minutes. Opens Friday (June 13). For venues and times, see Movies. Rating: N
If you’ve been longing to see Colin Firth masturbate glumly in a bathtub, drop everything and race down to When Did You Last See Your Father?
There’s not much else to recommend in Anand Tucker’s twee, turgid drama, an adaptation of poet Blake Morrison’s memoir of his complicated relationship with his dying dad.
Firth plays Morrison the younger, and Jim Broadbent puts on his plummiest smile as the distracted, distant Arthur, who – if the film is to be believed – was a heedless rapscallion who never missed an opportunity to embarrass, humiliate or emotionally scar his son, either through his antic get-rich-quick schemes or a murky relationship with a neighbour lady who was not Blake’s mum. (Mum is played, with a great deal of repressed suffering, by Juliet Stevenson.)
How does Firth’s self-abuse fit in? Well, it’s an awkward (and apparently unconscious) metaphor for the movie as a whole. While the elder Morrison is depicted as a jolly raconteur, his son is a sulking, self-absorbed twat – and I use the term in the proper English sense – who uses his father’s illness as an excuse to hide from his own crumbling marriage and look up the Scottish chambermaid who initiated him into manhood as a teenager.
It’s all presented in an overbuffed, insistently artful fashion by Tucker, who’s as fascinated with reflective surfaces as he was when he made Steve Martin’s Shopgirl a few years back – another case of someone indulging in empty jollies at the expense of the audience.