A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this is a very grown up movie depicting extremely complex father-son dynamics, exploring the good, the bad, and the ugly of their relationship. That means infidelity and, at times, emotional cruelty. Some scenes depict the son as a teen, complete with raging hormones. Though there aren't any explicit nude scenes, his growing fascination with the opposite sex is explored (there's a masturbation scene). He also drowns his sorrows in hard liquor at one point, and there's some swearing. If your son is going through a rough patch with his father, see the movie ahead of time so you can unpack some of the complicated emotions the movie is guaranteed to raise.
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What's the story?
How to love a man who is bombastic in contrast to your modesty, cunning in contrast to your sincerity? And what if that man was your father, who knew just when to make you laugh and moved you to explore the world -- but also broke your heart? And what if you then have to watch him die slowly as you grapple with forgiveness? These questions lie at the heart of WHEN DID YOU LAST SEE YOUR FATHER?, a drama based on the memoir by poet Blake Morrison. Told in a series of flashbacks, the film rotates between three distinct time periods in Blake's life: as a young boy (Bradley Johnson) confused by his father Arthur's (Jim Broadbent) trysts with a family friend, as a teen (Matthew Beard) who resents keeping secrets while trying to navigate adolescence, and as a grown man (Colin Firth) who must come to terms with the fact that Arthur can't undo the past and that it's time to say goodbye.
Is it any good?
Director Anand Tucker brings deft grace to the movie, switching between the three time periods with ease and resisting the temptation to go for the cheap shots to eke out sympathy. (How rare!) The result is a sweet, honest, and profoundly moving drama.
It's also well-acted. As the teenage Blake, Beard owns the film; his every movement communicates longing and anguish, along with a hefty dose of teen disdain. Watching him transform into the adult Blake (Firth is as quietly affecting as the movie itself) adds potency to the entire story. And as Arthur, Broadbent offers a textured performance. He's neither monstrous nor angelic -- he's painfully human. A scene in which he teaches his son how to drive on a beach beautifully conveys a moment that means so much more.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about complicated father-son relationships. Did any of the scenes in the movie resonate? How do relationships change during puberty and after? What role do your kids think mothers should play in the relationship between fathers and sons? Did the movie do a good job highlighting tensions, or were the situations shown specific to the movie?
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