David at the Movies: a small movie with a big heart


This, for me, is a “companion piece” to last year’s Bill Nighy movie Living, since it again has an elderly gent in the central role. On hearing that a former colleague in the brewery where he worked is dying, Harold (Jim Broadbent) impulsively decides to walk from his home in Devon to the hospice in Berwick-upon-Tweed. His wife Maureen (Penelope Wilton) sees this as a long-postponed way of leaving her. Their marriage has gone stale because of the disappearance of their only son, which is eked out in a series of flashbacks.

Like other road movies, the film alternates between motivation and meetings. Harold crosses paths with a few fairly ordinary people who each have a tale to tell. At one stage he becomes a kind of Messiah figure, leading a flock of followers, but he arrives in Berwick on his own to resolve the story of the dying woman’s role in his life.

I got a slight sense of “wokeness” being applied to both the characters and the actors, and there are a few scenes that don’t really ring true. The best element is the seesaw on which Harold’s marriage is quietly riding. Broadbent and Wilton are two fine actors on top form here. This is another small movie with a big heart which it wears on its sleeve.

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