Acorn Media // 1982 // 80 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Roy Hrab (Retired) // April 2nd, 2010
John Mortimer: Don't be angry.
Clifford Mortimer: I'm always angry! When I'm dying...
A Voyage Round My Father is a British production by Thames Television of high pedigree. It stars the late acting titans Laurence Olivier (Spartacus) and Alan Bates (Gosford Park). It was written by the late John Mortimer, creator of Rumpole Of The Bailey, adapting his own autobiographical play for the film.
Unfortunately, the result falls far below the potential.
The story follows the relationship between John Mortimer (Bates) and his blind father, Clifford (Olivier) from John's youth to his father's death about thirty years later. It is standard fare about a son trying to live up to his father's expectations while at the same time seeking to set-off on his own. In this case, John, at the behest of this father, follows the old man into practicing law. However, the son really wants to be a writer, which he becomes eventually.
The play doesn't translate to the screen very well. The thirty odd years of action take place over a short 80 minute run time. Most of it takes place at the family home. These slice of life sketches would work on the stage where the words take precedence, but they don't cohere into anything solid here. The garden and pastoral settings surrounding the Mortimer estate are unnecessary distractions. Further, the play doesn't contain much in the way of kinetic action that would lend itself to a cinematic presentation. And so, the film plods along until it ends with little intensity until, perhaps, the final scene.
The performances are functional. Olivier makes for a good cranky old man and Bates is believable as the dutiful son, but both actors have far superior showings elsewhere in their respective bodies of work.
The audio presentation is fine. All you need to hear is the dialogue and it comes across without any problems. The video is less than ideal. Scratches and grain are present throughout and the colors are on the dull side.
The minimal extras on the DVD are text biographies of Bates, Mortimer, and Olivier.
This is a feeble effort with only the combination of Bates and Olivier as a drawing point. However, if seeing this duo together on screen is something that appeals to you be aware that A Voyage Round My Father is more comparable to Righteous Kill than it is to Heat.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Acorn Media
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 80 Minutes
Release Year: 1982
MPAA Rating: Not Rated