My Life So Far (1999) Poster

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8/10
A boy's bittersweet memory of his father
MetaLark4 January 2003
This is a delightful movie. It's based on a man's nostalgic look backward at a slice of his childhood spent on a Scottish country estate in the 1920s. Narrated by the author as a ten-year-old boy, it recounts a period in which both he and his capricious father learn some important lessons about themselves and about each other.

There is little plot to speak of--just life unfolding variously in its sweetness and pain, often tinged with a delicious whimsy. Be warned, though, that much as you may be disposed to like the father, he is a flawed man; his pathetic and childish attitudes are often painfully embarrassing to the viewer. Also, sexual references permeate this film, and there is a strong suggestion that youthful sexual curiosity ought to be given free reign. Parents with a contrary view might wish to give it a look before showing it to their children.

The cinematography is excellent, deftly making the most of the fine Scottish landscape.

But the music--ah! The music is wonderful, from the first folk-tinged strain, through Beethoven and Saint-Saëns, to the Louis Armstrong ending. Few films are so musically satisfying.

The role of the childish and inarticulate father, Edward Pettigrew, is nicely developed by Colin Firth. Rosemary Harris is his aristocratic, but good-natured mother-in-law, who actually owns the estate inhabited by her daughter and Edward and their progeny; Harris handles her part with great understanding and humour. The children are natural and believable, and the servants are well-picked and quirky--their kitchen conversations add much warmth to this work.

For me, the ending credits revealed a lovely surprise: that the reflections of the boy, Fraser Pettigrew, actually come from a memoir written by Sir Denis Forman. I know that name well; Forman is also the author of my favorite opera guide, a cleverly designed, but funny and irreverent book appropriately titled, "The Good Opera Guide." (But don't be put off by the U.S. title, "A Night at the Opera"; it's a wonderful book by any name.)

Small wonder, then, that this movie has such a fine soundtrack.

Rating: 8 for the movie, 10 for the opera book.
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9/10
A kind family & precocious child in a gentle setting
MissRosa19 December 1999
Many summaries have described this film's plot as a love triangle that occurs in turn-of-the-century Scotland. Nonsense. What is this tendency to pigeonhole films by the time and place

in which they occurred? Maybe its because of Hollow-wood's tendency to create shallow "costume dramas." If a film has any merit at all, it is because it TRANSCENDS its setting, and speaks to its audience, whoever and wherever they are.

"My Life So Far" is a story of the intellectual development of a very bright child. His piecing together and puzzling out of the complex emotions of the people around him, in addition to his own feelings and experiences, and the information he receives via overheard conversations, books, music and so forth are interesting and original and seem totally spontaneous. It is a joy to experience what he experiences.

The ensemble acting is effortless, especially the child actor, who is so spontaneous and self-absorbed, you feel you are a member of the family, not an onlooker. Production values are sterling. The shots of the huge Scottish castle and its beautiful lands are somehow comforting. (This is neither a child's film, nor an adult's film. "My Life So Far" doesn't really have a niche, and that may be why it has not been widely distributed).

It is a film to see to renew your memories of being a child and to cause you to meditate on what daily life can be like for a child who is alert, intelligent, and surrounded by love and a good home.
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9/10
Delightful family comedy like they "used to make"
Arty-417 July 1999
I saw My Life So Far at a preview screening and loved it. It's a small, modest movie; don't go expecting "Saving Pvt Ryan." But for what it is it's wonderful--like escaping from a fetid city and diving into a clear cool lake.

It's one of those comedies of family life that both adults and (older) children can enjoy--the kind "they used to make." The ten-year-old narrator doesn't understand a lot of what he sees going on around him (mainly sex), but the audience does. Set in the Scottish highlands in the mid-thirties, it evokes the kind of idyllic life that vanished after the War--a large extended family living in a big ramshackle house on old family property with dogs, servants, neighbors and occasionally an unexpected visitor or two. There's not much story to the film; it's mainly about the rather eccentric characters who inhabit it, and the way they relate to each other.

The ensemble cast of British, French and American actors is perfect. Especially fine is Colin Firth, who plays the narrator's boyish, sexy and definitely oddball father. Every time I see this actor I marvel at how he manages to display so many conflicting emotions and thoughts while seeming never to move a muscle. And he's gorgeous to look upon, too. Rosemary Harris gives one of her typically fine performances as the boy's grandma, and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio manages to do a great deal with rather little as the boy's mother. Malcolm McDowell is the wealthy uncle with the child bride (Irene Jacob) who is everything that Firth isn't. The tension between them is almost palpable and erupts into a fistfight before the film's end. My only reservation about the acting is with Robbie Norman as the kid; he is cute in a freckle-faced way but not very expressive (especially set beside Firth).

All in all, I give this film a 9. There's still something to be said for modesty, humor and charm. I wish there were more films like it.
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8/10
Utterly Charming
ruthgee6 December 2003
My husband and I just watched this beautifully performed movie. It is an old fashioned movie with wonderful scenery of the Highlands of Scotland. Of a life that is no more. Robert Norman as Fraser the little boy is perfect for the part. He is very curious and causes no end of trouble. This movie takes place after World War I and is based on the novel "Son of Adam" by Sir Denis Forman. It is a gentle movie and I highly recommend it to those people who want spend an hour and a half in a time that will not come back. Rosemary Harris as Gamma, as always, is perfect. ColinFirth as Edward the dreamer, inventor and father plays the part to perfection. Both Irene Jacob and May Elizabeth Mastrantonio are beautiful and a pleasure to watch. Do see it.
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10/10
The true story of one of the founders of BBC/TV and Chairman of The Royal Opera House, when he was a child growing up in Scotland in 1920
countryway_4886425 April 2002
This is one of the least know, but most charming films I have ever scene.seen.

Every child deserves to have a father like Edward Pettigrew (Firth). As Frazier describes his father, " Father is an inventer and a genius!!!"

The film begins with a toddler Frazier, disliking his rest time, decides to have an adventure by crawling around the roof of the family castle in Argyll, Scotland. Father climbs down the steep roof with a rope attached to his waist and rescues wee Frazier, all the while barking like a dog. Frazier, (who makes comments throughout the film), observes that at that time in his life, he and his father ONLY communicated in DOG, the language they both spoke best.

Naturally the film has a romantic and potentially explosively moment between Father and his brother-in-law's fiance- a 24 year old French muscian who is quite beautiful and charming. She is also very wise for her years and managed to defuse the situation before it blows up. Never-the-less, the wife, played beautifully by Mary Elizabeth Mastreontonio, finds out at a crucial moment in the film and those rock-solid marriage nearly ends at a most tragic time in young Frazier's life.

But father, being a genius, finds a way to heal the wounds caused by his split-second decision to give in to his baser instincts. The WAY he gets his wife to forgive him and laugh again is pure magic.

Colin Firth never looked so handsome. Not even his glorious Mr. Darcy is so appealing. This role gives him the opportunity to show all his sides. His glorious, looney sense of humor as well as his gift for drama without words. Here he is active, leaping into a freezing cold Locke, running up and down stairs, inventing things, saving his son, dancing with his wife. He gets to laugh and cry and be HUMAN.

For those who discovered Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy, My Life So Far is the glorious update!

My Life So Far in DVD has a place on honor in my collection of over 500 DVD's and VHS' One of my favorites, and, I hope soon to be yours.
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8/10
A gem
spinbunny9 October 2004
It is rare to see a sweet and lovely movie but this is one ... a great way to spend the afternoon. A nice family story, although with really young kids you might have to explain some of the things "Wee Fraser" discovers up in his Grampa's attic. (Should you find your attention wandering and this not being your kind of movie, just fast-forward to the dinner scene and the very final scene: those two scenes should go down in movie history as the most adorable ever made!

(A Family Dinners will never be the same when you consider a little bit of knowledge gets a little out of hand --- and maybe dad does know best!)
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Comments on the Film from a Colin Firth Fan
moviefan-324 July 1999
Beautiful music fills the theater, and a view of a lovely castle, the light all brown and gold, then a children's room, curtains drawn for nap time, or "rest time, " a Gamma calls it. Fraser hates rest time. He pulls his bed over to the window, parts the curtains, climbs out the window and starts out on his housetop journey - the journey that brings his father, resplendent in tennis white and cream bounding up the stairs, long legs moving fast. And ends with Dad barking like a dog, and little son barking back until he is safely swept up into Edward's arms and hoisted high on the roof for all to see.

It is a wonderful beginning to a family saga. It manages to tell us almost everything about the kind of child Fraser is, and the kind of father he has -- Almost everything, but not all.

In the course of the film we see that Edward Pettigrew is many things, an inventor of hair brained gadgets, an exuberant dad to his children, a lover to his wife, a trial to his mother-in-law, a fool to his brother-in-law, a kind employer to the house staff. But most of all, he is a man with the heart of a child. There are times when the child Fraser is more mature than Edward the dad.

I never felt the film was fragmented, because the central theme, Edward's lust for Heloise, held the movie together, and gave it shape. And he DID lust for her, did something to her in the sphagnum moss storage room, something unwanted, and aggressive enough to take her choker from her neck, leave them both with moss clinging to their hair -- something to cause us to hear one wild scream from Heliose.

Edward's jealousy of Fraser's friendship with the beautiful Frenchwoman is a child's jealousy. Edward tries to push Fraser to the side; he vies with his son for Heloise's attention, and by his boorish, childlike actions, he opens himself to her public ridicule of him at table.

Colin Firth has one of his best roles here. He allows us to see a man with so many warring degrees of character - kindness and cruelty, foolishness and intelligence. And the man is funny too. There is a scene where he attempts to tell the facts of life to Fraser that is priceless. A perfect place for the stammer.

For the Firth fans of us, he is rugged of face and the liquid brown eyes have never been more expressive. There is one particular scene where you could drown in them! He is trim of body, walks the walk all over the heather, wears clothes to die for. There is one suit that he wore for hunting that I loved - dark brown with knickers, and with the most fetching brown slouch hat. And that Scottish accent! Divine!

Best of all, is a scene in pajamas, alone by the fire, the light playing on his face, his head back, a bit of suprasternal notch showing. Sighs were heard all up and down our row.

Yes, I liked it. Everyone was excellent in it. I particularly loved Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio's sweet expressive face, and her singing voice is lovely. Robert Burns never sounded more haunting or romantic. McDowell was hard edged, not a likeable man, but one that loved his mother very much -- and his young wife. You could especially see that when Edward taunts him in the climatic scene. Young Fraser is a natural, and I thought his discoveries in his grandfather's attic, and his obsession with "sins of the flesh," very real for a bright ten year old in 1920 who was never told any of the things he really wanted to know. The Louie Armstrong/jazz/cigar/brandy snifter scene shown in the trailer becomes much sweeter and sadder when you see the film. There is an extra ingredient that makes it so.

I wanted to be a guest in that house where smokes billows from the lawn, the master rides around in tiny inflatable boats, or tank like vehicles, where lovers waltz in their nightclothes in the rain. Where eccentricity is treated with forbearance -- until Eve enters the scene and changes the family forever.

*************
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A nice, entertaining little "gem" of a movie, and great scenery.
TxMike4 April 2000
"My Life So Far" is based on a true account of life in a Scottish family between WWI and WWII. It was filmed around Argyll, Scotland, and is certainly a beautiful movie to watch.

The story is told from a 10-year-old boy's point of view. His rather large family (8 or 10 children) live on the estate of his mother's mother. His dad is a bright man but is a somewhat impractical inventor. The single, rich uncle is threatening to evict them all when the matriarch dies.

The story unfolds nicely, the father comes to grips with some of his faults, relationships are examined. Music is well-integrated throughout the movie. It ends in a very satisfactory manner.

This basically "slice of life" movie holds your interest and is overall very entertaining. Not an earth-shaker, I give it a strong "7" of "10", meaning for me that it is better than 70% of the movies out there.
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10/10
Enchantment in the Scottish Highlands
jeand13 August 1999
My Life So Far is a charming film, sweet without being syrupy, endearing but not bland, pointed yet not preachy. It is a gently meandering memoir of an idyllic age and place which probably never really was, but which we wish to believe existed once upon a time, populated by people we would be happy to know. Mostly, it is the joyous celebration of a devoted, loving, though imperfect, family, which not only survives its crises, but is, one feels, strengthened by them.

The cinematography is breathtaking, making the most of the lush landscape, the opulent sets and the expressive actors. The screenplay is filled with poignant moments, both humorous and dramatic, while the acting is quietly beautiful and detailed, from Rosemary Harris' superb Gamma to Robert Norman's refreshing 10-year old Fraser. Colin Firth's stunningly rich, yet understated, performance as Edward, the complex father, by turns madcap inventor, loving husband, hypocrite, fool and life-embracing dreamer is a wonder.

My Life So Far provides a delightfully rewarding escape from our rude, crude world to a paradise which, if not perfect, is perfectly enchanting.
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8/10
A Scottish Delight
ira_dvir_safe14 October 2006
This is a personal story, through the eyes of an innocent Scottish child.

The movie follows the tradition of pearls like My Life As A Gog, and When Father Was Away On Business (Emir Kusturica).

Hugh Hudson that had quite too few movies (maybe due to the unsuccessful Revolution.

In this movie Hudson returns to the Scottish Highlands that he treated so well in Chariots of Fire.

This Scottish delight is dedicated to the late Ian Charlson of the Cariots, who portrayed so well the Christian spirit that is evident in this one.
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It's a breath of fresh air!
Casey-563 August 1999
I hardly heard a word about this movie before I saw it. That's a shame because it certainly has much to offer. If you're into high budget, heavily-hyped, glitzy movies loaded with Julia Roberts, space aliens, laser swords, computerized sharks, haunted houses or naked Nicole, this one is not for you. It's classy, charming, understated and you have to be in the right frame of mind in order to enjoy it properly.

The story is told through the eyes of a ten year-old. Bearing this in mind, the plot disconnects and occasional odd characters suddenly make sense--about as much sense as anything can make when you're ten.

The film has in evidence, even to an amatuer, very high production values. The cinematography is stunning--the Scottish countryside is the perfect antidote to urban heat and humidity. The script is witty and downright hilarious at times. However, the film's best feature is its actors, particularly Colin Firth. He portrays a father figure you can hate one moment and love the next with astonishing realism. A less talented actor might have overdone Edward's eccentric nature, rendering the character unbelievable in serious moments. There is great chemistry between Firth and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio. Both communicate more with their eyes than with words.

A less talented cast would have turned this movie into just another coming-of-age story. If you're interested in a polished, well-acted memoir with the right blend of comedy and serious moments, this movie is for you. You'll leave the theater satisfied instead of wondering why you wasted your money on yet another overpromoted, overdone Hollywood product.
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9/10
Wonderful, dreamy story
tango123 July 1999
Caught this movie by accident at the local art theatre, the show I wanted to see was sold out. I really like Irene Jakob (she is so beautiful!) and decided to take a chance. Glad I did!

This is a dreamy, out of sequence kind of film.. you have to be patient to finally "get it", the truth not being really revealed fully until the end. Redgrave is amazing as a bohemian, artsy type, and the cinematography is quite beautiful (Dover especially).... intriguing story line. Definitely a good Sat eve rental!
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7/10
Delightful movie
yjgeja19 July 2005
I thought this movie was overall delightful. It really captured the innocence of the narrator and the passage that we all must go through as we mature.

I loved Colin Firth in this movie and his interactions with his son, the narrator, was well done. There were parts that made me laugh out loud and others that made me cringe because the awkwardness of the moment was so well portrayed and it made me feel as if I was there experiencing the moment with the characters.

It is a bit of an odd movie if you do not like this genre, a bit slow and not quite so mainstream. However, it is nonetheless worth seeing, especially if you think Colin Firth is a great actor!
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6/10
an innocent little piece which might charm or amuse
khatcher-222 May 2004
From the bonnie banks of Loch Fyne, Hugh Hudson brings us a far cry from his `Chariots of Fire' to serve up an endearing, even charming, little piece, not lacking in comedy, purportedly a biography of the young Fraser Pettigrew. The story is a disconnected series of episodes in the young boy's life as seen by him as he clambers through life in a pool of innocence.

Some good interpretations, especially the boy and his father, Colin Firth, and some excellent scenes with the servants. Expected more from Ms. Mastrantonio, but got it from Irène Jacob.

Otherwise, the film meanders through from scene to scene, gloriously photographed in the beautiful Scottish countryside below Stub an Eas (732m) right at the top end of Loch Fyne.

The film is simply that: an entertaining `divertimento' without much to suggest greater ideas; a kind of family portrait of yesteryear, of times remembered as romantic; but nothing serious to go on. For that, see `Gosford Park' (qv).

The `divertimento' impression is heightened not so much by the original music, but by the inclusion of pieces by Beethoven on the piano, and `The Swan' by Camille Saint-Saëns, not too brilliantly played I should add: which, is just the correct thing, as amateurs at home are hardly likely to produce awesome professional playing.

Watch it with this attitude and you will be amused or entertained, but without expecting anything more from it. The best scene is at the dinner table, well into the film...........
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Jazz is the work of the devil-"Edward Pettigrew"
mimacdon426 December 2001
I loved this period piece set in Scotland during the 40's. It is a coming of age story of Fraser Pettigrew.

Most of the story was told through Fraser's precocious eyes. Both he, and his father Edward, develop an infatuation with Malcolm McDowell's "exotic child bride"(Irene Jacobs). Fraser and his aunt share a sweet friendship;she turns him onto jazz, Louie Armstrong and the like.

His father Edward's (Colin Firth) love is unrequited and misplaced. He is a sympathetic character in the story until he develops this wandering eye. He is a hypocrite in that he wants to be pious and he wants & takes his sister-in-law and becomes the devil he warns Fraser of.

Edward Pettigrew's foolish fantasy is revealed at Gamma's funeral for all to see. His only redemption is the true love of Moira played by Mary Elizabeth Mastrianni, who forgives him for all his foibles.
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6/10
When a child's drama is not taken seriously
cathy-3910 August 1999
I think I would never have been to see this movie if it hadn't been for Colin Firth. I don't love family dramas, mostly because it's always based on the parents point of view, even if the central hero is a child. As I am always on the side of the child, it seemed to me, while I was watching the movie, that I was the only one who truly see how much this child was abused.

In "My life so far", the young Fraser is caught between an irresponsible father who beats him and a mother who doesn't protect him. And even if the camera shows us his suffering and his fear, it always pushes us to to forgive and forget what has just happened. Mostly because at the same time we are expected to be bewitched by his father's desire for a French cellist. Of course he is gorgeous, and the desire we see in his eyes is breathtaking, but clearly the script wants us to love and forgive this child-like father at any cost, even at the cost of his own son. The last scene is pretty clear on that subject: the film doesn't end on Fraser but on his father, who is now so"good" to let him drink, smoke and watch pornographic photos. What is the moral of this? The father stays irresponsible and his last smile wants us to believe that he is changed and that he is a good father.

As I love Colin Firth's acting so much, I must say I am very puzzled by this movie. He plays very well indeed, that is not the problem, he has all the subtleties the character demands, but the film just doesn't amount to anything. No one really seems to care enough for Fraser and it seems that it is the only reason why the father takes up so much place in the movie. This idealized father that even Fraser calls a genius. But how could he ever say the contrary since nobody ever tells him that what he feels when he suffers is true?
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8/10
The last scene is worth watching the entire movie
arizonapeanut12 August 2003
I thought this was a very sweet, subtle, good movie. There were a few scenes that had me laughing my arse off. I usually like Colin Firth in movies, and this was no exception. I liked how they really told the story from Fraser's POV, but that it still conveyed the complexity of the adults around him. How the father and son communicate by barking was adorable, and the last scene is worth watching this movie.
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A beautiful movie to enjoy
sally-113 August 1999
This is a movie that allows you to feel good about yourself. It is the story of normal people who lived in a time that civilization has lost forever. Handsome Colin Firth is fantastic, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio shows a talent I never knew she had. All the actors complimented each other. If you are looking for action, gore and vulgarity this is not for you. Roger Ebert said it best - 'Thumbs up! I loved this movie' and so did I.
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9/10
Low key charm
footzie1 August 1999
My Life So Far, is a very gentle film and a likeable one.

Its story comes from a time that will never again be seen. Set in pre-WW II Scotland, it tells of a large family's relationship with each other and with the beloved estate upon which they live. It moves leisurely from scene to scene, spinning a story that is propelled by a logical flow of occurrences. There are no wrenching emotional peaks. There is conflict, but civilized behavior wins the day.

The actors are without flaw. Every role is cast as it should be. Seeing it, is as comforting as a delicious cup of hot chocolate on a 10 degree day.
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"My Life As a Dog" Meets Masterpiece Theater
massadvj26 July 1999
Generally, we associate the term "slice of life" to television commercials, but I can think of no more appropriate term to describe this film about an early-twentieth century Scottish upper class family. The film has the look, feel and pace of an episode of "Masterpiece Theater," with a predictable assortment of eccentric characters, so avoid it if you do not like that sort of thing.

The main plot is about a boy's coming of age, and his trying to make sense of the inconsistencies he discovers between what men say and what they actually do. It is reminiscent of "My Life As a Dog," but nowhere near as powerful.

Irene Jacob as Heloise, the boy's young and attractive aunt, is a magical screen presence, although her performance is uneven. Other reviewers have noted the ambiguity of the Colin Firth character. We are never certain whether to love him or hate him. Personally, I did not find this to be a problem because I think we encounter the same discrepancies with people we meet in real life. The big unanswered question for me was why Heloise was marrying the uncle. Did she love him, and if so where were his redeeming qualities? Was it his money? Then why did she seem so sweet? That was never clear to me.

All in all, "My Life So Far" is an entertaining diversion, marginally worth the price of admission. ***
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4/10
Just another British rich people movie
matchett7923 April 2006
Another lottery-funded, over-produced yet well-acted film about rich British people doing nothing apart from slightly eccentric episodes set to an over bearing score. Imagine Kenneth Brannagh doing 1920s Scotland. Does contain some slightly amusing plot devices but nothing of any significance happens. The fact that this was based on a true story about a boy who grew up to be sort of important didn't help me at least. It's not a bad film but it says nothing and does nothing new. Could have been made for much-much less money for TV but apparently some charities didn't want their lottery money. A bit more content, heart and soul would have made the difference.
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3/10
One long, lovely, Scottish fizzle
tblewis3 September 2000
A wonderful example of what happens when a movie has been infused with a drastically insufficient supply of dramatic tension. The characters wander with apparent aimlessness through most of this visually lovely film, commenting on nothing in particular that we care about. None of the actors gives the slightest indication of being involved in the non-existent story; the child actors are particularly bland and read their lines as if from a cue card. Events transpire, but because of the dearth of tension, the film leaves the overwhelming impression that *nothing has happened.* And, indeed, nothing of importance has.
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10/10
a rare and beautiful film perfectly evoking a bygone age and Scottish humour
cmalt201 February 2007
This film is completely charming. The relationships between father, Edward Pettigrew (Colin Firth) and son, Fraser (Robert Norman) is both of a bygone era and has a naturalness which is unknown to Hollywood.

Adding in the allure of Irène Jacob (of 'La Double Vie de Veronique' fame (a master piece) and the understated performance of the long suffering wife of Edward Pettigrew (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio - The Perfect storm; The Colour of Money) and we have acting at its very best.

It's really difficult to avoid overuse of 'charming' with this film along with 'romantic' in the wider sense of the word - whether as enjoyed via the Pettigrew daughter Elspeth's teenage crush on the lusty and wordly (literally 'drop in') aviator; the interplay between the family matriarch 'gamma' (granmother - Rosemary Harris ); or the bashful servants agog at the 'goings-on' upstairs in the Pettigrew castle.

Overall though, Firth and Norman steal the show and our hearts with an evocative unfolding of a life in Scotland before all was sullied by cars, television, mobile phones and the rest. A time when (as both Norman's and Firth's characters beautifully portray) imagination held sway.

You leave the film wishing you'd had that life - 'so far' at least.

Not surprsing that (Sir - if you believe in those kind of 'titles') Denis Forman (on whom the story is based) also was involved in the TV version of 'Jewel In The Crown' - the Indian classic of another bygone era.

Similarly - Hugh Hudson, the direcor, famoulsy made Chariots of Fire and his capture of the charm or romance of a given time is again evident in this later work.

Over all from this reviewer's perspective - this film perfectly conjured up both a bygone era and bygone ways of relating. So refreshing to have not only a non-American film but a non-English British work. The Scottish-ness lent it even more charm and it is SO REFRESHING to see a film based in or on Scotland which is NOT one of urban gritty violence and / or familial dysfunction. There are only so many 'My Name Is Joe' - type films emanating from Scotland which you can watch before throwing your hands up in the air and pleading for a nice 'feel good' Scottish film. This is it, revel in it , enjoy it: it's special.
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7/10
Good story marred by useless subplots
FlickJunkie-211 February 2000
This film had great potential, but it was too ambitious and tried to be too inclusive in telling the story. There are really two main story lines here: (1)Young Fraser's (Robbie Norman) coming of age and (2) His father Edward's (Colin Firth) misadventures.

Fraser's story (which the title implies is the point of the film) is fabulous. It is a whimsical and witty look at the coming of age of a ten year old boy in 1920's Scotland. He learns about sex by furtively studying his grandfather's books and pictures of unclad women. Put in the context of a completely naive ten year old mind, he develops some funny interpretations of the subject that are routinely and innocently blurted out in the presence of adults, usually to the mortification of his parents. This was a wonderful story and his journey to manhood should have been the subject of the entire movie.

The second story line was dull, and encumbered the film. This is the story of Fraser's father Edward. It centers around two key subplots. The first is his kooky childlike lifestyle, including crazy inventions and ineffective businesses. The second is his obsession with his Uncle Morris's (Malcolm McDowell) fiancée. Other subplots in this story line include a rivalry between Edward and Morris for the inheritance of the castle. This overly dramatic subplot bogs down the film ruins the comedic and mirthful elements provided in Fraser's story.

The cinematography was splendid, helped greatly by the beauty of the Scottish countryside and the magnificence of the Castle the family called home. Fortunately, there was a character with an airplane that gave director Hugh Hudson a convenient excuse to show aerial views of the castle and the countryside which were simply breathtaking. The photography in this film is reason enough to see it.

The acting was excellent. Though I wish the character had less emphasis, Colin Firth was excellent as Edward, the quirky father figure. Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio gave a fine performance in a minor role as Moira, Edward's wife and the mother of his ten children. Once again, she had an opportunity to showcase her beautiful singing voice (see "Limbo" if you want to really hear her sing). Malcolm McDowell and Irene Jacob were also excellent as the uncle and aunt.

The best performance by far was that of Robbie Norman as young Fraser. He was full of innocent mischief and gave a convincing portrayal of the curiosity and nescience of youth.

I gave this film a 7/10. If you enjoy interesting character studies, slice of life films, beautiful scenery and comedy spawned of innocence, you will love this film. Had they stayed with the main story line, I probably would have given it a 10.
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delightfull
Kirpianuscus13 October 2018
The atmosphere, the performances, the plot, the memories about films about same theme. Few pillars of the good feeling seeing it A film about family and ordinary events , nice adventures, a fathher almost adultescent and a love story and Colin Firth giving a splendid role. The mix of humor and great scenes . Short, a lovely film. Real delightfull.
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