Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Review: What We Did On Our Holiday

World of Blackout Film Review

What We Did On Our Holiday Poster

What We Did On Our Holiday
Contains highlight-to-read spoilers.
That said, ^^ that film poster up there ^^ is a spoiler, as well, so y'know.

Cert: 12A / 95 mins / Dir. Andy Hamilton & Guy Jenkin
WoB Rating: 2/7

Yeah whatever, let's move on to the seven questions, shall we..?

Is the trailer representative of the film?
It's representative of the premise, certainly, but I'll concede that while the trailer summarises the tone of some the film pretty well, it does not tell you the plot of the entire film.
Largely because if it did, no-one would go and see it.

Did I laugh, cry, gasp and sigh when I was supposed to?
Well, the humour is overwhelmingly twee, and the family-drama is overwhelmingly mawkish and manipulative. And then there's the events of the second act which felt oddly weightless for some reason. The film has a lot to say about the way in which children view and react to events around them, but rather than be charmed by the naive boldness of spirit, I just sat thinking 'Well, that wouldn't happen. Any of it.'

While the screenplay plays an unprecedented card, it did so unconvincingly for me, and I just thought the whole thing was in surprisingly poor taste. And if you aren't convinced by the events in that second act, none of it's going to work.

Does it achieve what it sets out to do?
Well, I can see what it's doing, and I can see that it's doing it well (the frequent laughter of the audience around me seals that particular deal), but I can't bring myself to like any of it. The gentle, smug comedy of the first and third acts sits uncomfortably with the overall direction of the film, and feels like it's two separate TV series that have been combined into one and then trimmed down to half their planned running time.

Pay at the cinema, Rent on DVD or just wait for it to be on the telly?
Even with the sweeping vistas of the Scottish Highlands , What We Did On Our Holiday feels very televisual. This is more down to the screenplay than the photography, and it's certainly not a deal-breaker, but I couldn't shake the feeling that I could have watched this on TV with almost the same effect.

Will I think less of you if we disagree about how good/bad this film is?
I'd like to say no, but that wouldn't be true. Tonight's audience seemed to thoroughly enjoy it, and I know more than a few people who it'll be ideal for. But for me personally, What We Did On Our Holiday is a tonal shambles and one of the most ill-judged screenplays I've seen brought to life. When the best thing in a film is the three children who are too young to be able to act properly*1, you know you're in trouble.

Will I watch it again?
I won't, no. In fact, I'm fairly certain I'll go to the point of actively avoiding it. Perhaps the film raises questions and doubts in my mind which I instinctively recoil from on a subconscious level. Or perhaps I just feel the whole affair is like a horrific, slow-motion car crash between Outnumbered and One Foot In The Grave, only with a younger principal cast and fewer jokes.

If there's one good thing to have come out of this, it's that Fisherman's Blues by The Waterboys is no longer a involuntary trigger for remembering that massively self-satisfied Visit Scotland advert from a few years back. Instead, it's been replaced by the mental image of three traumatised young children incinerating the corpse of a recently deceased loved-one on an abandoned beach, in an episode which they seem to cope surprisingly well with in the film, but which will undoubtedly cause them severe psychological issues in the future. Oh yeah, I guess it's not quite as charming when I put it like that. Believe me that I'm not exaggerating when I say it's only just behind Under The Skin for entry on the shortlist of the most unflinchingly disturbing scenes you've seen on a beach. Oh, and elsewhere there's a rape-joke as well, so well done there.

Is there a Wilhelm Scream?
No, there isn't.

And if I HAD to put a number on it…

And my question for YOU is…
For those who've seen the film: Where did they get all those bottles from on the beach? They can't have been in the back of the truck. And I'm not convinced that the structure would have stayed afloat, even with them. That said, I've never had to dispose of a body. Like that.

*1 Nothing against them personally; they've got more charm than most child actors, but they still sound like they're reading lines. And they're still more likeable than the adults. Me mordere.

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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