Friday, August 15, 2014

Here's a streaming "must" -- Sam Hoare's unusual "family" film, HAVING YOU


One of those don't-miss movies that the whole world will -- because small tales of love and life and learning, no matter how good they may be (and this one is very) find it almost impossible to make a dent in today's marketplace, given the amount of money that is spent selling cloddish blockbusters to sheep-like consumers -- HAVING YOU proves one of the most special films to arrive of late in that difficult-to-market category of rom-com drama.

The film also heralds the movie-making debut of an actor named Sam Hoare (at right), whom we shall certainly be hearing from again. Mr. Hoare has managed to tell a terrifically good story -- full of surprises, large and small, that never defy credibility -- and tell it so well that we latch on early and stay supremely focused on these several characters brought to lovely life by the excellent cast.

Suddenly one day, into the life of a struggling young man named Jack (Andrew Buchan, below)-- he's dealing with commitment issues; an angry, unloving father; and a job that barely earns his living -- comes Anna (Anna Friel, above), with a young boy in tow (a quiet and hugely appealing performance from Isaac Andrews), whom she says is Jack's offspring from a one-night-stand nearly a decade earlier.

Jack has just popped the question to his fiancee of too many years (the beautiful Romola Garai, below), who happens to have, as her doctor has put it, an "inhospitable womb," but who accepts Jack's proposal with tears and grace and lots of love. This is a particularly well-crafted and -acted scene -- so unlike the many dumb proposals we've viewed on-screen. Still... Now what?

What the filmmaker, who both wrote and directed Having You, does with this fraught situation is simply lovely -- there's not a misstep anywhere along the way. Via low-key but somehow intense and very real performances, Hoare keeps us rooting for every character, despite some of their wrong choices. On one level there does not seem to be a lot of conflict here, and yet the conflict is built into the situation and into the character of Jack, whose responsibility all this finally is.

Aside from the drama present, there's a good deal of humor, too, particu-larly from Jack's boss and best friend, Paul, given a nice spin by Steven Cree. The people here are good people, doing their best and generally succeeding. Yet the past will catch up with them and force them to face who they are and what they really want. The present, too, has some trauma in store, and together past and present unite to force change.

Having You is one of the most "dear" movies in a long while: the kind you want to protect and nurture, just as, I suspect the filmmaker and his cast wanted to do. They have succeeded so spectacularly -- but, yes, in a small, sweet way -- that their film becomes hands-down one of the least known success stories of last year. You can view it now via Netflix streaming and elsewhere.

2 comments:

demurely1 said...

A marvellous review for this beautifully subtle and superbly acted film. I've watched it countless times since it premiered last year - it never fades! The soundtrack is lovely too. It really needs a wider audience! :)

James van Maanen said...

Thanks for the comment, Demurely. And thanks, too, for the mention of the lovely soundtrack, which I had meant to bring up but somehow forgot.