Plot – A family of five is off to Granddad’s big 75th birthday party at an uncle’s estate in rural Scotland. The parents are separated and hope their three kids won’t mention it. The kid’s love can talk with and will do anything for Granddad – What We Did on Our Holiday.
Released – 2014
I really didn’t think I was going to be so utterly charmed by What We Did on Our Holidays. But here we are!. Centred around a dysfunctional family, soon to be divorced parents Doug (Tennant) and Abi (Pike), along with their three young children Lottie (Emilia Jones), Mickey (Bobby Smalldrigde) and Jess (Harriet Turnbull) taking a trip up from London to the Highlands of Scotland for the 75th birthday of Doug’s father, Gordie (Billy Connolly), knowing that this may well be the last one he celebrates because of Gordie’s terminal cancer.
Not usually a situation that shouts comedy, but realistic and witty writing and direction by Hamilton and Jenkin proves that there’s humour to be found in even in the most depressing and complex of circumstances. And as many of you well know, large family gatherings have a tendency to result in mishaps, arguments and complex emotions prone to boiling over, especially when you have young children involved.
One of the most enjoyable aspects of the film is just how unpredictable turned out to be. Sure there are a few turns that you could see coming, but on the whole, most of the events that happened took me by surprise, and astonishingly, most of these moments filled you with bittersweet emotions. This brings me on to the movie’s ambiguous tone, which will have you laughing one minute, on the verge of tears the next. A hard balance to get right, but here it’s achieved seamlessly. Creating a warm and cosy atmosphere that draws you into the plot and the development of the characters.
Complimenting the events of the film was the cinematography. Sure, it would be hard to make an ugly movie when you have a backdrop as stunning as the Scottish Highlands, but here the filmmakers worked hard to highlight just how beautiful this wild and timeless corner of the world remains. The acting was amazing; I find David Tennant to be one of the most consistent actors working today, putting in another performance tinged with sadness.
Every time he was on screen you could sense to amount of stress he was under and how depressed Doug had become. Rosamund Pike was just as great. But when it comes to stealing this show, this honour belongs to the three child actors, who are alone on screen for the most pivotal scenes of the movie and without their excellent work, I’m not so sure the movie would have worked as well. Billy Connolly also gives a memorable performance, while the rest of the cast also gives a harmonious performance.