My Life So Far


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

My Life So Far
"What is missing is kiddies' fun."

Growing up with a herd of brothers and sisters in a vast pile on the west coast of Scotland sounds wild and exciting. Judging by the way director Hugh Hudson and scriptwriter Simon Donald have tackled the early life of Sir Denis Forman, you wouldn't know it.

Despite brave efforts by Colin Firth as the unpredictable inventor father, Malcolm McDowell as Uncle Maurice, and Rosemary Harris as the matriarchal grandmother, no one feels comfortable. It is supposed to be eight-year-old Fraser's story, but seems to be a boy's eye view of adult behavior. Robert Norman, as Fraser, does not act like a child who has spent his whole life in the country.

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The Edwardian household, choking with servants, both indoor and out, revolves around the eccentric behaviour of Dad, whether he is blowing up bits of moor for his moss factory, or having Fraser launch a model airplane from the roof. What is missing is kiddies' fun.

There are about seven of them and they never do anything together that doesn't involve a parent. You would expect that behind the green baize door a whole world of mischief, games and devilish plots exists, like a parallel universe. But no. Even their kilts are clean and their knees unscuffed.

Other details are misplaced. It is only in movies that posh folk go shooting with their 12-bores broken under their arms. Fraser is seen fishing in the loch and returns with his rod in two parts, which means he would have untied the cast from the line, taken the rod to pieces, pocketed the reel, just to walk a few hundred yards home. Also, there is a grouse plucking scene in the kitchen in which the cook and two scullery maids are tearing at the birds as if they have lost their minds.

The only sniff of drama is when Dad makes a pass at Uncle Maurice's "exotic child fiancée", the 24-year-old Eloise (Irene Jacob - so far out of her depth she disappears). Nothing comes of it, except an absurd scene when Mumsy (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio) gives him a tongue lashing a few months later in front of the children and assorted guests. One thing the upper classes are good at is not making a fuss in public.

Reviewed on: 19 Jan 2001
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My Life So Far packshot
Family life on a posh rural estate after the First World War.
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Director: Hugh Hudson

Writer: Simon Donald, Sir Denis Forman

Starring: Colin Firth, Rosemary Harris, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, Malcom McDowell, Irene Jacob, Malcolm McDowell, Robert Norman, Kelly Macdonald, Roddy McDonald, Daniel Baird, Tcheky Karyo

Year: 1999

Runtime: 98 minutes

BBFC: 12 - Age Restricted

Country: UK, US


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