We finally caught up with this movie over the Christmas period mainly to satisfy Ma's obsession with Colin Firth!   Unfortunately, Mr Firth, while always giving a satisfying performance, is a little old to effectively carry off the sorrowful smouldering widow.  He is also in danger of being type cast in the role of the sexy, lonely, confused male who just needs a woman to make his life complete although he doesn't always know it!  Luckily, the theatre was full of 50 something females who were almost audibly muttering "pick me"!

The beginning of this film directed by Michael Winterbottom is by far the bestpart.  The scenes of the mother and daughters driving along happily on the icy roads is full of tension and apprehension.  It establishes the relationships so essential to  what is to follow and establishes wy the girls miss their Mum so much.  Of course the inevitable happens and the daughters are left motherless and in the care of their Dad - you guessed it - Colin Firth.

Then we follow the lives of these grieving children and father to Italy where Dad is contracted to work at a University.  However, true to so many films of late - the mother ( Hope Davis) appears to the youngest child (Mary) who seems to be suffering the most.  The older daughter Kelly, ( Willa Holland) is more preoccupied discovering her sexuality with the local boys leaving the younger daughter even more lonely and confused. 
The older daughter blames Mary for her Mum's death - they were playing games in the car which distracted Mum - and can not bring herself to share it with anyone, she just has an over supply of teenage attitude.  Add to this the fact that their mother was an accomplished musician and Dad has the girls enrolled in music lessons from a private tutor in Italy which gives plenty of opportunities for Kelly to sneak off with her boyfriend and for Mum to appear watching over her girls as they play the piano.
It all ends happily after a moment of manufactured tension as Mary (Perla Haney-Jardin) runs through Italian traffic to see her Mum on the other side of the road.  A very irresponsible ghost in my opinion! All the family - Dad, Mary and Kelly - are safely reunited and live happily ever after realising that they need to stick together to make it through.

As you might have gleaned from the tone of this Blog, this movie is most forgettable.  The direction is pedestrian, the cinematography nothing more than is needed to tell the corny story and the acting is satisfactory without being sensational.

Score:   5/10


A bit harsh, Pepe, but I think I am over Colin Firth you will be glad to know - though it's not really his fault that they keep type-casting him in the role he does best!  For me, the two girls take the acting honours in this movie which depicts their grieving process in the very atmospheric streets of Genova - dark, brooding and labarynthine - rather like the emotional journey the girls are making.  Willa Holland as the older sister, Kelly, is the typical 16 year old, focussed on her peer group and intent on exploring her sexuality but there is more to her than this;  underlying is her anger with life and with her younger sister whom she blames for ruining it by causing their mother's death.  As the younger Mary, Perla Haney-Jardine is superb - a little lost girl, suffering from night-mares and bed-wetting, seeing images of her mother whom she believes has come to forgive her and rejected and blamed by her adored older sibling.  Our hearts go out to her as she trails after her sister through the sinister streets of Genova.

We do see something of the beaches and the port but for the most part, the movie does not give this beautiful Italian town much of a wrap - it certainly isn't the changed location that effects the healing process.  Instead, it is supposedly the "ghost" who leads the child into danger TWICE thereby making the family realise that they have to support each other through this.  I'm afraid that I just got irritated and wished they would just sit down and talk the whole thing through - instead of the interminable shots of wandering through the less attractive streets of the city.  And "ghosts" just stretch the willing suspension of disbelief to breaking point.

All in all somewhat disappointing...

Score:  6/10

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