Sunday 24 November 2019 4:00 pm
Rainbow Theatre, Northumberland Mall, Cobourg
Alan is a stylish tailor with moves as sharp as his suits. He has spent years searching tirelessly for his missing son Michael who stormed out over a game of Scrabble. With a body to identify and his family torn apart, Alan must repair the relationship with his youngest son Peter and solve the mystery of an online player who he thinks could be Michael, so he can finally move on and reunite his family.
Cast: Bill Nighy, Sam Riley, Alice Lowe, Jenny Agutter, Tim McInnerny
Director: Carl Hunter
Runtime: 91 minutes
The title's a reference to when, in descending order, the three buttons on a gentleman's jacket should be undone, something Bill Nighy's character Alan, a retired tailor, knows all about. Now, the widowed Liverpudlian spends his days honing his Scrabble skills, and seeking his eldest son Michael, who left home as a teenager, following an argument over using "Zo" in a word-game. It's an obsession that leaves Alan's younger son, Peter (Sam Riley) feeling second-place in the favourite child stakes.
Director Carl Hunter lends a dialogue-heavy script cinematic verve, channelling Wes Anderson-style visual quirk to the point of distraction. But Frank Cottrell-Boyce's screenplay is all about the chat, with Alan's Scrabble prowess standing in stark contrast to his inability to communicate with his remaining, non-prodigal son; now a father himself, with a teenage son, wife (the wonderfully understated Alice Lowe), and a business painting ice-cream vans.
In Nighy (a cross between Peter O'Toole with Paul McCartney's voice, and a wind-sock in a gale), the witty script leaps to life, in a tour-de-force of darkly downbeat comedic timing; his furtive looks and glances hinting at the sorrow beneath the surface. The supporting cast are fun, replete with eccentrics, most notably Jenny Agutter and Tim McInnerny as a couple Alan fleeces at Scrabble, and a cameo by comedian Alexei Sayle, ranting on a beach.
The idiosyncratic script, direction and style are all very English, riddled with references to 1970s Brit kitsch. As a tale of reconciliation between a father and son struggling to communicate, it's a charming and funny film, an eccentric exercise, revelling in words (you'll never say "soap" the same again), centred on a small tale of a family reaching to let go of regrets and ultimately, reconnect.