Having not seen Arand Tucker's first film, "HILLARY AND JACKIE," but being floored by his magic with "SHOPGIRL," this reviewer was excited to see his newest film, "WHEN DID YOU LAST SEE YOUR FATHER," available on dvd from SONY.
Well, it doesn't offer the payoff in either beauty or power that his last film did, but "WHEN DID YOU LAST SEE YOUR FATHER," still manages to be good, but disappointingly, it's far from great. Adapted from a memoir by the poet, Blake Morrison, Colin Firth plays an accomplished writer, mostly reminiscing about his youth and the dreary encounters he's shared with his father, from a young boy through adulthood, now that his father is dying. The acting by all, especially Jim Broadbent, is terrific. The writing, less so. While the title, and the suggested point of the film(if there is one) focuses on the idea that parents are merely "constructs" of our own, and not the actual person, the film never really captivates or feels as thought provoking as it should. Director Anand Tucker does display some beautifully shot and choreographed sequences, but there's little else to them beside the way they look. Tucker also relies far too much on camerawork to dazzle in place of the faulty, sluggish script, and loses the magic his earlier work achieved in doing so. "SHOPGIRL" paid off because Tucker's artistry always complimented, with balance, the narrative. Here, Tucker seems to think one will ignore the content, and focus purely on the imagery. Nothing can rise above the script and inconsistent pacing.
SONY has provided the correct 2.35:1 aspect ratio, with 16:9 enhancement. Colors are solid, but intentionally subdued, keeping in tone with the dreary atmosphere permeating the majority of the film. Detail is generally impressive, although blacks aren't deep enough to display the kind of terrific detail one expects from SONY dvd releases on a regular basis. Grain varies from scene to scene, but is never intrusive.
SONY has provided a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix. Not at all aggressive, or nearly as creative as in Tucker's previous films, most separation is directed towards the front, with minor ambient effects popping up sporadically in surrounds. The music, quite beautifully, boosts the atmosphere, temporarilly, whenever it kicks in, complimented by all speakers.
An audio commentary with Tucker is provided, and, unfortunately, while different from many commentaries, focusing on the film's content, rather than scene-by-scene description, still lacks energy, and is strictly for whatever fans may arise from viewing the film.
Deleted scenes are offered, but none stand out as consequential.