Set in Edwardian England where upper lips are always stiff and men from the Colonies are not entirely to be trusted, Fisk Senior has little time or affection for his son, but when the pair visit an eccentric Indian, they start a strange journey that eventually allows the old man to find his heart.
Each Thursday, a man approaching middle age calls upon his father, aged, caustic, nihilistic, and emotionally distant, perhaps from the loss of a son in the Boer War and his wife soon after. On this day, the son suggests they attend a visiting guru's lecture on the transmigration of souls. There they chat with a vicar and a soldier of fortune; dinner follows. Over glasses of Hungarian Tokay, the vicar, Dean Spanley, tells a story of friendship, freedom, and reincarnation. In what earthly way could this tale connect father and son? Written by
Peter O'Toole said the use of comedy to explore the relationship between a father and son was part of what attracted him to the film. He remarked: "All of us had difficult familial relationships. I think it's a film for all of us who understand the relationship between a father and son. It's been interesting watching various members of the crew looking at the monitors during scenes. They come up to me then and say "I had the same thing with my father." See more »
Sheer magic by Jeremy Northam, Peter O'Toole and Sam Neill
Peter O'Toole here gives a performance that shows the breadth and depth of his abilities fully and makes an unforgettable impression. It would be strange if O'Toole would not get a number of awards for this. But the lead role in this film belongs to Jeremy Northam, who plays Henslowe Fisk, plagued son of the O'Toole character. Northam carries a lot of this film and with his enormous talent and subtle as well as multi-layered acting deepens every moment of humour as well as emotion. Northam again dazzles with his talent and the truthfulness and intensity of his performance, and in this case shows how magical film can be if some of the best actors play as a real ensemble and support each other's acting. One can only wish for more lead roles for this extraordinary actor. And Sam Neill in his indeed slightly uncommon role as Dean Spanley shows that he can do more than we have ever seen from him. Some of his scenes are extremely difficult to execute in a way that is intense without slipping into silliness, but Neill does it immaculately.
The screenplay by Alan Sharp is extremely intelligent and witty, with some of the best funny lines I have ever heard in a film. He has, if I may say so, improved the story by Lord Dunsany very much. The director did very elegant, unobtrusive and subtle, most convincing work in every regard. And the music should also be mentioned, as it perfectly reflected the tone and style of this film. The overall experience of this film is sheer pleasure, of the deep sort with maybe a tear in one's eye, and then a warm glow of delight and remembrance.
Actually, this is not a film about dogs, but about human beings. It is not an eccentric movie based on a strange premise, but a truthful one that reflects some of the deepest issues of our lives. It is not only very intelligent and funny and deeply moving, but among films definitely a work of art.
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