What We Did on Our Holiday

Stop playing chip jenga!

Year Released : 2014what-we-did-on-our-holiday-34312
Director : Andy Hamilton and Guy Jenkin
Cast : Rosamund Pike, David Tennant, Billy Connolly, Emilia Jones, Bobby Smalldridge, Harriet Turnbull and Ben Miller

So after years of not really seeing the point, I finally gave in and got Netflix. I had previously opened an account in 2014 but the selection was limited, putting it nicely, so I couldn’t be bothered and cancelled….but I decided to give it another chance and found a lot of films that do interest me. I then found a film called “What We Did on Our Holiday”. It sounds vaguely familiar but the number of IMDB ratings shows that this isn’t that well known, so I have decided to review it.

Other than the cast I know precisely nothing going into the film and I think this is a good thing as I haven’t even watched the trailer before I start watching (I put this section before watching the film for those that haven’t read this site before). It’s not often I do that…..infact virtually never, but there is one reason why I have done it on this occasion and that is because it stars Rosamund Pike.

I have always been impressed in particular with Rosamund Pike, and she was astonishing in the 2014 movie “Gone Girl”, hence the nomination for an Oscar that year. I’m not sold on the rest of the cast to be honest as I’ve rarely seen anything with them in that I have enjoyed, but I’m prepared to give anything a chance, well, within reason anyway.

Plot

Abi (Pike) and Doug (Tennant) are still recovering from a recent break up but they need to travel together with their three children to the Scottish Highlands to visit the latter’s father, Gordie (Connolly) for his 75th birthday. It’s possibly the last time that they’ll get to celebrate Gordie’s birthday as he is suffering from cancer, a fact that they unsuccessfully try to hide from the children.

Doug’s overly competitive brother, Gavin (Miller), is organising the party and in the mean time he and his wife are having their own issues, but nothing compared to Doug and Abi, especially when the latter reveals that she plans to move her and the children up to Newcastle. Knowing it might be the last chance he gets to see them, Gordie takes the kids to a local beach and teaches them some life lessons, however, he soon gets a vision of one of his long-dead friends and passes away there and then.

Not knowing what to do, Lottie (Jones) goes back to the house to tell the rest of the family, but she sees them all arguing and Abi’s revelation about having a new partner that she hasn’t told that kids about upsets her, and she decides that it’s her and her sibling’s responsibility to make sure that he gets a fitting funeral. Once the rest of the family find out what they’ve done, it has repercussions that no-one could predict.

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Worth not watching the trailer for?

It is certainly an unusual thing to go into a film without having watched the trailer first. Obviously Netflix put the summary of the plot into just a single sentence, but I’m mostly glad that I took the chance with “What We Did on Our Holiday”.

Now, I’m not going to to lie, despite relatively enjoying this film I am not going to be giving it the approved stamp below because of the children in the film. Now whilst the Mickey and Jess (the youngest two) are fine, the character of Lottie is just your typically self-involved child character, so much to the point that when Gordie dies about half way through the film, she sounds so unconcerned and uncaring about it. This could be due to the poor acting and delivery of the lines from Emilia Jones, but it just lacked the heart that the rest of the film tended to have. She genuinely sounded like she couldn’t give a crap. And even then, when she eventually gets back to the house, she decides not to tell anyone because she finds out that Abi is dating again.

I wouldn’t go as far as saying that she’s at the Dakota Fanning level of single handedly ruining a movie, but she is pretty damn close. She is by far the worst thing about this movie.

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Outside of that character it is a very likeable film, with generally warm and funny comedy. There were a few times that I actually laughed out loud, and this isn’t something that I do on a regular basis. Let’s get one thing straight though, this is a very British movie and by that I mean that a lot of these jokes simply wouldn’t work outside of the British isles. For example, there is one joke about them being near Watford that I think anyone outside of the UK won’t get. If you’re not British then chances are a lot of the jokes will go completely over your head.

That’s not to say that it’s not an outright comedy though and there are a lot of heartfelt moments in the movie. For example, there is a scene in which Gavin and Doug go out to search for Gordie as they don’t believe that the children did a Viking funeral for him, and yet when they see that what they are saying is probably correct, Gavin breaks down and the movie takes a far more serious tone.

The cast do a very decent job, with Pike unsurprisingly standing out as the mother that is desperately trying to hold everything together, and the cautious optimism of someone who wants to try and hide how dangerous the real world is from the children. It’s hard to put my finger on what makes her so enjoyable to watch in not only this, but numerous other films, but she draws me in each time, and her speech near the end of the film (I won’t go too much into it) shows just how passionate she can be.

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Summary

A warm, vibrant and heartfelt movie that I would be comfortably be giving the approved stamp to had it not been for one character, which is a big shame as child characters tend to ruin the films that they are in.

If you can ignore that character of Lottie all together, you have a very quaint film that brings about pretty much every emotion that you get drawn into, and this is helped by the performances all of concerned…..with the exception of Emilia Jones.

I want to recommend it, but can’t give it the approved stamp due to that horrible character and performance…..I’m hoping that how many times that I’ve mentioned it puts it into perspective about how bad it is.

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