"Gripping Movie of Reflection"
What You Need To Know:
The writing, based on Blake’s true story novel, is amazingly honest. The directing is unique. The performances are rich and studied. The story is a complicated one based on the often complicated relationships that adult children have with their parents. The movie, however, comes from a humanist worldview devoid of God. Blake regresses to his teenage years when he stays with his father. He visits a woman that he dated and nearly has an affair with her now. There are depicted scenes of sex, foul language and alcohol use.
(HH, LL, SS, N, A, D, MMM) Strong humanist worldview including discussion that creation just happened and “nothing” happens when we die; six obscenities and four profanities; no violence; depicted sexual relations between husband and wife, implied promiscuity between teenager and older woman, much discussion of masturbation, separately teenage boy and adult man masturbate; upper male nudity; alcohol use; smoking; and, lying, cheating, adultery, and negative father figure.
WHEN DID YOU LAST SEE YOUR FATHER? is the story of Blake (played by Colin Firth), who spends two weeks with his dying father Arthur (played by Jim Broadbent). Blake reflects upon their complicated relationship, trying to get closure on the question of his father’s adulterous affair.
Blake rejected his father’s profession of medicine and became a poet. Cutting back and forth as a young boy and a teenager, the story unfolds of young Blake discovering that his father is having an affair with “Auntie Beaty,” a family friend. This marks Blake with a sense of being betrayed by his father. His father flirts with other women, lies continually, and on more than one occasion teases Blake to the point of driving him to tears. Just when Arthur is seen to be a monster of a father, more reflections from the past appear showing a kinder side of Arthur. In flashback, the father and son take a road trip, which is bittersweet as Arthur teaches Blake to drive a car.
Blake never confronts his father about the adultery. Before Arthur dies, Blake attempts to talk to him, but he never does. This leaves him both missing his father and being glad that he’s gone. The movie is built around reflections. Many shots and sometimes entire scenes are shown as reflections in mirrors or other surfaces. The memories unfold as Blake tries to unpack his relationship with his father.
The movie is gently crafted. The writing, based on Blake’s true story novel, is amazingly honest. The directing is unique. The performances by all are rich and studied. The story is a complicated one based on the complicated relationships that adult children often have with their parents.
The movie, however, comes from a humanist worldview devoid of God. The opening images are of a night sky. Blake and his wife comment on creation just happening and “nothing” happening when you die. Though in his mid-thirties, Blake regresses to his teenage years when he stays with his father. He visits a woman that he dated when he was a teenager and nearly has an affair with her. The movie shows both teenage Blake and adult Blake masturbating.
There are many elements of which to be concerned. While there are only a few instances of foul language, a few are intense. There is much drinking throughout. Teenage Blake is shown in bed with the maid, Sandra. Adult Blake and his wife are depicted having sexual relations and, in one instance, discussing Blake’s impotence. Arthur lies all the time and cheats on many petty matters.
This movie is a stirring one and points out the need to resolve relationship difficulties before it’s too late. With discernment, this can be a satisfying and emotionally moving movie, but there are many elements of which to be wary.