Film: “What We Did On Our Holiday”; Cast: Rosamund Pike, David Tennant, Billy Connolly, Ben Miller, Amelia Bullmore, Emilia Jones, Bobby Smalldridge, Celia Imire, Annette Crosbie and Harriet Turnbull; Directors: Andy Hamilton, Guy Jenkin; Rating: ***
Released under the PVR Director’s Rare banner, this BBC Film, a light-hearted tragicomedy is directed by writer-directors Andy Hamilton and Guy Jenkin. It is replete with bright picturesque frames, quirky characters, snappy retorts and situational gags.
After being involved in an extramarital affair, Doug Mcleon (David Tennant) and his wife Abby (Rosamund Pike) have always been at loggerheads. Their discussions always lead to a fight.
Seeing their parents constantly bickering, the couple’s three children – Lottie (Emilia Jones), Mickey (Bobby Smalldridge) and Jess (Harriet Turnbull)- have developed their own mechanism to cope with the situation. Lottie maintains a notebook where she notes the lies told to her; Mickey indulges in Viking lore, and Jess has animated conversations with rocks and stones.
Doug’s dad, Gordie (Billy Connolly) is a cancer patient, living with Doug’s older, nouveau-riche brother Gavin (Ben Miller) in western Scotland. On his approaching 75th birthday, Doug decides to visit him along with his family. Concerned that his father is in a precarious condition, he insists on keeping their dysfunctional family status under wraps. But with the children around, that’s a Herculean task. This, along with an unprecedented event, forms the crux of the narration.
The three children, with their spontaneous, honest and off-the-cuff responses, steal the show from their adult counterparts. They get along well with their grandfather and have some memorable moments on the beach with him discussing life, loss, lying and honesty.
David Tennant and Rosamund Pike play the perfect bickering couple. While David is his usual self, Rosamund is far less evocative from her role as Amy Elliot in “Gone Girl”. That’s because unlike in “Gone Girl”, where she had an author-backed role, here her part is a perfect foil character and she delivers it with conviction.
They are flawlessly supported by Ben Miller, Billy Connolly, Celia Imrie as Ben’s wife and Annette Crosbie as Gordie’s friend.
As a family-oriented film, the plot takes off on an innocuous path that is heartwarming and funny. But by the time it reaches the mid-point, a tragic twist turns the scales of the tone of narration and soon the plot disintegrates into an un-relatable pulp fiction which is nevertheless, enjoyable.
It is director of photography Martin Hawkins’ wide angle lens which captures the natural landscapes of Scotland that helps the film’s director duo, who had earlier done television sitcoms for BBC, to graduate to the big screen. Otherwise, this film would have just been an extension of the sitcoms they had earlier done.
The occasional ostriches flittering across the screen has an intrigue value which remains unsolved till the end of the film.
Ironically, at the end of this film, one of the characters perfectly summarises, “We are all ridiculous and nothing matters”.
So, just watch this film for its entertaining quotient.