My Uncle Silas

My Uncle Silas


Reviewed by: David Stanners

Albert Finney's a bit of a legend. Always a rugged charmer in days gone by, he retains these traits as a loveable rogue in My Uncle Silas.

Adapted from the works of HE Bates, this is a cracking little group of tales set at the turn of last century about Silas (Albert Finney), an old country fella, happily entertaining his little nephew during the school holidays with all sorts of stories and rascal antics.

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Old Silas is a flirt, a womaniser, a happy drunk, a prankster, a poacher, a skilled raconteur and a hero for little Ed (Joe Prospero), as he guides him through a memorable summer of booze, birds and boxing.

Split into six episodes, each tale is memorable. They're all nostalgic, but for the right reasons. Not only does its very concept paint a picture of happier days gone by, where a slower, simpler way of rural life was all the go. It also reminds you of the old man you'd look up to as a kid, the one who'd pat you on the head, or tell you a good story or two. Probably a pack of lies from start to finish, but a good story nevertheless.

Sue Johnston plays the tenacious housekeeper, deserving of a medal. She knows her place alright. Silas reminds her of that every day at five - "Get me dinner on the table, woman" - as he piles a bag of wet tatties in front of her that he and Ed have dug up, then dropped in the river, earlier. Between that and a few pints of elderberry wine, the man's as happy as Larry.

Charlotte Rampling's appearance as a deranged but seductive aristocrat is memorable. Out one day at church she catches a glimpse of Silas and the boy grave digging - one of his many odd jobs. Not the best setting to charm a lady, you'd think. Not so. Silas is on the ball, and with a few words of wit he's got an angry lady on the back foot, quite literally. Duping her with a few glasses of non-alcoholic apple tea, she stumbles back to her horse and carriage. How does he do it?

The script is light and simple and tailormade for Finney. He is brilliant as Silas. Perfectly cast, his rosy red cheeks, white surfboard sidies and hip flask full of home made wine are every bit the happy country bumpkin. Joe Prospero is sweet as the youngster happily mesmerised by an uncle who takes him poaching and painting and tells him all he needs to know about women. Not a bad start in life considering the old man's success.

My Uncle Silas is good, light-hearted Sunday evening fun. It paints a carefree picture of the way things were - and should be now - and is nostalgic escapism at its best

Reviewed on: 22 Feb 2003
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Tales of a nephew and his madcap uncle.
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Director: Philip Saville

Writer: Robert Banks Stewart, Peter Tinniswood, based on short stories by H E Bates

Starring: Albert Finney, Joe Prospero, Sue Johnston, Charlotte Rampling, Lynda Bellingham, Annabelle Apsion, Julian Holloway

Year: 2000

Runtime: 140 minutes

BBFC: PG - Parental Guidance

Country: UK


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