“Whatever you do, don’t upset Dad – his health can’t take it …” – with these words, Doug (played by David Tennant) convinces his ex-wife Abi (by Rosamund Pike) that on their visit to see his dying father, Gordie (by Billy Connolly), they should pretend their marriage is still intact and everything in their family garden is “rosie”. They set off for Scotland – Doug, Abi and confused children Lottie (by Emilia Jones), Mickey (by Bobby Smalldridge) and Jess (by Harriet Turnbull) – to see Gordie and help him celebrate his 75th birthday. Doug and Abi snipe at each other the entire journey and they arrive exhausted at the grand Scottish home of Doug’s brother, Gavin (by Ben Miller). Although he’s seriously ill, Gordie’s still active and is very pleased to see his family from London. He welcomes the break from the weird lives of Gavin and his eccentric wife Margaret (by Amelia Bullmore). Over a couple of days Gordie spends happy times with the grandchildren while the “adults” either bicker over well-worn family issues or over-organise Gordie’s lavish birthday party. Gavin’s beside himself with anxiety about the party – set to be the biggest “who’s who in Scottish society” function for years. Gordie picks up hints of trouble between Doug and Abi and does his best to comfort the children that they’ll be fine. He takes them for a day out, including a visit to see his friend Doreen (by Annette Crosbie) at her much-adored ostrich farm. At the loch, Gordie amazes the children with his tales of his proud Viking heritage. Then things take an unexpected turn and in the face of a tragedy, the family must somehow forget their squabbles and work together to face their truths and a more positive future.
This is a sweet movie with some lovely messages. The Scottish landscape is grand and beautiful, which is the perfect backdrop for this off-beat family story. Brothers Doug and Gavin work well together, with David Tennant and Ben Miller doing great work. Rosamund Pike and Amelia Bullmore are deliciously quirky and entertaining – in a dry but very pleasing way. It may be my personal taste, but at times the comedy is at high risk of going off the rails and becoming just too silly – but it stops short and stays on track. Billy Connolly is as only he can be – and he works with the children beautifully. But it’s young Lottie, played marvellously by Emilia Jones, who steals the show. The relationship between Gordie and Lottie is delightful – I bet any youngster would love to have that type of relationship with their grandfather. Overall, the entire piece is very nicely done and surprisingly entertaining.
Made in 2015. Directed by Andy Hamilton and Guy Jenkin