Directors: Andy Hamilton, Guy Jenkin
Writers: Andy Hamilton, Guy Jenkin
Stars: Rosamund Pike, David Tennant, Billy Connolly, Ben Miller, Amelia Bullmore, Emilia Jones
“What We Did on Our Holiday” is a drama based comedy movie that is about a dysfunctional family and a marriage on the brink of divorce. Abi (Rosamund Pike) and Doug (David Tennant) have three kids Lottie (Emilia Jones), Mickey (Bobby Smalldridge) and Jess (Harriet Turnbull) and set out to visit Doug’s father Gordie (Billy Connolly) in the Scottish Highlands to celebrate his 75th Birthday with his family and friends. Sadly Gordie has terminal cancer and both Abi and Doug have made a promise to themselves and their kids that they are putting all of their problems to one side to portray a happy family unit in front of Gordie.
As mentioned this movie is drama based comedy and the script is littered with funny one liners throughout the story. Having to deal with serious issues of terminal cancer and divorce you can imagine that it would take a lot of skill and attention on the writers parts to blend the drama and humour together. Thankfully Andy Hamilton and Guy Jenkin (Writers / Directors) have a winning formula in “What We Did on Our Holiday” that knows when to make you laugh and when to make you sad.
David Tennant and Rosamund Pike are great in their roles as always and portray a struggling couple who mostly bicker throughout the movie. Surprisingly though it is the rather subdued performance by Billy Connolly and the three kids that make more of an impact in the scenes they share. Connolly at the time of filming was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and early prostate cancer shortly before he was due to start work on this film but went ahead without mentioning his condition to anybody.
Emilia Jones, Bobby Smalldridge and Harriet Turnbull work well with “The Big Yin’ (Billy Connolly’s nickname) and Gordie’s words and advice to the kids throughout are wise and memorable. The kids are the victims of the adults arguing and disagreements and it is always a revelation when the kids are the ones who make sense of the chaos around them and highlight this to the adults.
Ben Miller as Gavin is Doug’s Brother but couldn’t be more different in his personality and temperament. I found Miller mostly funny in an uptight way that he does so well. Sadly Amelia Bullmore role as his wife Margaret is limited and there are underlining issues with her character that isn’t developed or explained too deeply which could have been explored a little more.
The Cinematography by Martin Hawkins is stunning and I’m not being biased here but in “What We Did on Our Holiday” Hawkins manages to capture the stunning Scottish scenery to perfection and at the right times of day with the daylight, the colours of the mountains and the reflections in the sea. Couple that with excellent music throughout by Alex Heffes and throw in The Waterboy’s ‘Fisherman’s Blues” and you have the perfect tonic of everything that is Scottish within the movie.
Just running in at 1 hour and 35 minutes the time passes so quickly as the pacing remains consistent throughout and there is never a dull moment in the film. This film released back in 2014 came as a surprise to me and I really enjoyed watching it and glad I did. “What We Did on Our Holiday” is a movie the family can enjoy and will stay with you. Highly Recommended.