There’s a beguiling Englishness to this elegant, offbeat comedy-drama, terrifically written by Frank Cottrell-Boyce and directed by feature debutant Carl Hunter.
It has a wonderful syncopation in its writerly rhythm and narrative surprises.
The film positively twinkles with insouciance, and is performed with aplomb, particularly by Bill Nighy, who brings a droll sprightliness and deadpan wit to the lead part, but shows how these mannerisms mask emotional pain.
Sam Riley is excellent as the character’s long-suffering son.
Nighy plays Alan, a retired Merseyside tailor – and Nighy nails an engaging and consistent voice, sounding like a kind of donnish Ringo Starr.
The actor shows how his character, a formidable and quietly intelligent man, has retreated into his habits and eccentricities to shield himself from the cares of the world. Long ago, Alan’s favourite son left home, never to return.
In the decades since, Alan has searched for him, a quest that has sparked mixed feelings in the heart of his other, now grownup son Peter (Riley) who feels that he was always second-best.
But Alan has fixated on one thing in particular: the fact that his son stormed out over an ostensible argument over Scrabble, and whether the two-letter word “Zo” was admissible. Read more