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Film review: WHAT WE DID ON OUR HOLIDAY, from ‘Built For Speed’

What We Did On Our Holiday is a quirky, charming and often funny film that still manages to provides a sobering look at volatile and dysfunctional relationships.

The ubiquitous Rosamund Pike and former Dr Who David Tennant play a recently separated couple Abi and Doug who are trying to maintain the illusion that they’re still together so as to not upset Doug’s terminally ill Father Gordy (Billy Connolly) on his birthday.  As they head to the Scottish Highlands for the party, Abi and Doug launch into ferocious arguments that seriously distress their three children, particularly bookish 10-year-old daughter Lottie (Emilia Jones).  As the bickering continues at the home of Doug’s highly strung brother, the amusingly named Gavin McLeod (Ben Miller), the three children and Grandpa Gordy escape to the beach where tragic-comic circumstances ensure causing the police, social workers and a media circus to descend upon the home.

This doesn’t seem like the basis for a comedy but bizarre plot twists (that shouldn’t be revealed here) give the film a surreal quality that makes for some very amusing moments.  The film also features some fine comic performances with Miller superbly uptight as complete prat Gavin and Billy Connolly at his droll knowing best in a wonderfully cheeky but restrained turn as the Grandfather.  Stealing the film, though, are the hilarious brother and sister act Mickey (Bobby Smalldridge) and Jess (Harriet Turnbull), Abi and Doug’s two youngest children.  They may turn out to be the funniest comedy duo of the year as they deliver their hilariously oddball views on the world and innocently shoot down self-righteous egotistical adults such as  the pompous Gavin as he gloats about his ludicrous computer controlled ‘smart house’.

This is a character and dialogue-driven film rather than a spectacle but directors Andy Hamilton and Guy Jenkin and cinematographer Martin Hawkins provide some wonderful vistas of the Scottish Highlands.

What We Did On Our Holiday takes a jarring turn into schmaltz toward the end that seems wildly at odds with the rest of the movie but that unfortunate stumble doesn’t ruin what is for the most part a genuinely funny film that also makes poignant observations about the damage caused by domestic conflict.

Nick’s rating: ***1/2.

Genre: Comedy/ drama.

Classification: PG.

Director(s): Andy Hamilton, Guy Jenkin.

Release date: 12th Feb 2015.

Running time: 95 mins.

Reviewer: Nick Gardener can be heard on “Built For Speed” every Friday night from 8-10pm right here on 88.3 Southern FM.  Nick can also be heard on “The Good, The Bad, The Ugly Film Show” podcast. http://subcultureentertainment.com/2014/02/the-good-the-bad-the-ugly-film-show 

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