When Did You Last See Your Father? 

Directed by Anand Tucker

This father-son sob story–adapted from author Blake Morrison's eponymous memoir–flirts with more interesting material, but finally sticks to tired (if nicely art-directed) family melodrama. We bounce through time watching child, teenage and adult Morrison (Colin Firth) grapple with Daddy's (Jim Broadbent) perpetual adolescence and Mother's (Juliet Stevenson) resigned acceptance. However, muddled connections between micro- and macro-histories keep family anecdotes from carrying more thematic weight.

Father oozes quintessential British-ness: rolling hills, cottages, Scottish maids, etc. There's another film here about the death of an older England. Sadly, that film surfaces rarely and briefly. Instead, things devolve into patented tear-jerking, with Tucker wearing a few tricks really, really thin. About a third of the film is shot in bedroom mirrors. Granted, a few scenes blurred by reflections or obstructed by doorways intimates nicely that family history is unreliable, but come on! Later, a spinning Vertigo-quoting father-son embrace obnoxiously announces Morrison's liberating epiphany. Rather than a beautiful period piece about a father's death, a son's rebirth and a nation's parallel transition, this is little more than a series of pretty family photo album reminiscences.

Opens June 6

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