When Did You Last See Your Father?



Mature, deeply affecting father-son drama.
  • Review Date: June 9, 2008
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2008
  • Running Time: 92 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

A father who is otherwise attentive seems oblivious to his son's feelings, insisting on getting his own way, making fun of his son (he calls him a "fathead"), and conducting an affair in front of him and then asking him to keep mum, even though the son is still a kid Another character kisses a woman who isn't his wife. Nevertheless, most of the characters are well-intentioned and are searching for the right answers.


Raised voices in argument, but no physical fights.


No explicit nude scenes, though couples in varying/implied states of undress are shown about to make love or making love (for example, a teenage couple is shown under the covers with bare shoulders). A teen boy is briefly shown masturbating under the covers. In front of his son, a father cozies up to a woman who isn't his wife. Some kissing and discussion of the "sex police."


Some salty language, but not on overload. "S--t" is uttered in the first few minutes, and in one scene with strong emotions, a character screams "f--king" several times. Other language includes "bloody," "hell," and "damnation."


Book covers are clearly visible (one character reads a lot); some brief product mentions, but nothing obvious.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Visible consumption of alcohol -- mostly in social situations, though a teenager is shown drowning his discomfort in hard liquor that his own father buys for him.

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.

Families can talk 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?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:June 6, 2008
DVD release date:November 4, 2008
Cast:Colin Firth, Jim Broadbent, Michael Beard
Director:Anand Tucker
Studio:Sony Pictures Classics
Run time:92 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:sexual content, thematic material and brief strong language.

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  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Parent of an infant and 6 year old Written bybeattya April 9, 2008

Makes you wonder

This was a great movie. The acting was superior and the story was thought provoking. It is a movie you know the final outcome, but you you are hooked on finding out more about the characters. It without question makes you think how important it is not to put off saying I love you to someone you love..Well worth watching!


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