First-time writer-director Michael Austin here proves he can direct; unfortunately his script is not up to par. The black humor he is trying for does not come off and he has to resort to slapstick to get the odd laugh.
Pic opens when Edith Berg (Anna Massey) receives a letter from her long-lost husband Nathy (Denholm Elliott) who left home 23 years ago claiming he was going to buy some cigarettes. He wants to come home, but the news doesn’t please his son Alistair Berg (Richard E. Grant) who enjoys a peaceful existence with his mother.
He travels to Southend, on the coast, checks into the same faded hotel as his father with the plan to kill Elliott. What he finds is an unreformed character who gets drunk, lies and ‘borrows’ money and lives with Judith (Julie Walters).
The acting is all first-rate. Elliott has his drunk act down to a fine art, and gives his character an added sly and charming edge. Walters as the faded Judith is excellent, but for her the role is not particularly testing. Grant sports a wacky pudding bowl haircut in an attempt to get laughs, but his performance is gently menacing.