My Life So Far

1999

Biography / Comedy / Drama

0
Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 70%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Spilled 54%
IMDb Rating 6.4 10 2752

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Synopsis


Uploaded By: FREEMAN

Director

Cast

Kelly Macdonald as Elspeth
Colin Firth as Edward
Brendan Gleeson as Jim Menzies

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by MetaLark 8 / 10

A boy's bittersweet memory of his father

This is a delightful movie. It's based on a man's nostalgic look backward at a slice of his childhood spent on a Scottish country estate in the 1920s. Narrated by the author as a ten-year-old boy, it recounts a period in which both he and his capricious father learn some important lessons about themselves and about each other.

There is little plot to speak of--just life unfolding variously in its sweetness and pain, often tinged with a delicious whimsy. Be warned, though, that much as you may be disposed to like the father, he is a flawed man; his pathetic and childish attitudes are often painfully embarrassing to the viewer. Also, sexual references permeate this film, and there is a strong suggestion that youthful sexual curiosity ought to be given free reign. Parents with a contrary view might wish to give it a look before showing it to their children.

The cinematography is excellent, deftly making the most of the fine Scottish landscape.

But the music--ah! The music is wonderful, from the first folk-tinged strain, through Beethoven and Saint-Saëns, to the Louis Armstrong ending. Few films are so musically satisfying.

The role of the childish and inarticulate father, Edward Pettigrew, is nicely developed by Colin Firth. Rosemary Harris is his aristocratic, but good-natured mother-in-law, who actually owns the estate inhabited by her daughter and Edward and their progeny; Harris handles her part with great understanding and humour. The children are natural and believable, and the servants are well-picked and quirky--their kitchen conversations add much warmth to this work.

For me, the ending credits revealed a lovely surprise: that the reflections of the boy, Fraser Pettigrew, actually come from a memoir written by Sir Denis Forman. I know that name well; Forman is also the author of my favorite opera guide, a cleverly designed, but funny and irreverent book appropriately titled, "The Good Opera Guide." (But don't be put off by the U.S. title, "A Night at the Opera"; it's a wonderful book by any name.)

Small wonder, then, that this movie has such a fine soundtrack.

Rating: 8 for the movie, 10 for the opera book.

Reviewed by MissRosa 9 / 10

A kind family & precocious child in a gentle setting

Many summaries have described this film's plot as a love triangle that occurs in turn-of-the-century Scotland. Nonsense. What is this tendency to pigeonhole films by the time and place

in which they occurred? Maybe its because of Hollow-wood's tendency to create shallow "costume dramas." If a film has any merit at all, it is because it TRANSCENDS its setting, and speaks to its audience, whoever and wherever they are.

"My Life So Far" is a story of the intellectual development of a very bright child. His piecing together and puzzling out of the complex emotions of the people around him, in addition to his own feelings and experiences, and the information he receives via overheard conversations, books, music and so forth are interesting and original and seem totally spontaneous. It is a joy to experience what he experiences.

The ensemble acting is effortless, especially the child actor, who is so spontaneous and self-absorbed, you feel you are a member of the family, not an onlooker. Production values are sterling. The shots of the huge Scottish castle and its beautiful lands are somehow comforting. (This is neither a child's film, nor an adult's film. "My Life So Far" doesn't really have a niche, and that may be why it has not been widely distributed).

It is a film to see to renew your memories of being a child and to cause you to meditate on what daily life can be like for a child who is alert, intelligent, and surrounded by love and a good home.

Reviewed by Arty-4 9 / 10

Delightful family comedy like they "used to make"

I saw My Life So Far at a preview screening and loved it. It's a small, modest movie; don't go expecting "Saving Pvt Ryan." But for what it is it's wonderful--like escaping from a fetid city and diving into a clear cool lake.

It's one of those comedies of family life that both adults and (older) children can enjoy--the kind "they used to make." The ten-year-old narrator doesn't understand a lot of what he sees going on around him (mainly sex), but the audience does. Set in the Scottish highlands in the mid-thirties, it evokes the kind of idyllic life that vanished after the War--a large extended family living in a big ramshackle house on old family property with dogs, servants, neighbors and occasionally an unexpected visitor or two. There's not much story to the film; it's mainly about the rather eccentric characters who inhabit it, and the way they relate to each other.

The ensemble cast of British, French and American actors is perfect. Especially fine is Colin Firth, who plays the narrator's boyish, sexy and definitely oddball father. Every time I see this actor I marvel at how he manages to display so many conflicting emotions and thoughts while seeming never to move a muscle. And he's gorgeous to look upon, too. Rosemary Harris gives one of her typically fine performances as the boy's grandma, and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio manages to do a great deal with rather little as the boy's mother. Malcolm McDowell is the wealthy uncle with the child bride (Irene Jacob) who is everything that Firth isn't. The tension between them is almost palpable and erupts into a fistfight before the film's end. My only reservation about the acting is with Robbie Norman as the kid; he is cute in a freckle-faced way but not very expressive (especially set beside Firth).

All in all, I give this film a 9. There's still something to be said for modesty, humor and charm. I wish there were more films like it.

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