Sometimes Always Never – a film review by Roz Tarszisz

March 6, 2019 by Roz Tarszisz
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It’s always good to learn something new, however obscure, and it’s not giving anything away to say that the film’s title refers to which buttons a man should do up on a three-piece suit – starting from the top.

It is perfectly apt as the protagonist, Alan (Bill Nighy), is a tailor who is always immaculately turned out. He is also a fine Scrabble player and it’s the famous board game which provides a link to an important part of the plot. Nighy brings his usual casual elegance as well as something deeper to this role.

Alan may be better dressed than anyone else, but his emotions are stunted. His teenage son Michael stormed out of the family home during a game of Scrabble. That was over 25 years back and Alan is still searching for him.

The story opens with Alan meeting up with his younger son Peter (Sam Riley) to check if a body in the morgue is their missing Michael.  Peter is angry with Alan and they don’t have a close relationship. To Peter his brother is the Prodigal Son who has not yet returned home, leaving them both in emotional limbo.

Staying in a guest house overnight, they meet a couple – Margaret (Jenny Agutter) and Arthur (Tim McInnerny). Alan proposes a game of Scrabble and his hustle of Arthur shows he still has a sense of fun.

It takes the next generation to bridge the gap between father and son. With no explanation, Alan moves in with Peter and his wife Sue (Alice Lowe) sharing a bedroom with grandson Jack (Louis Healy). It is Jack who introduces his Scrabble-obsessed Granddad to online Scrabble. Alan becomes convinced that a particular player is Michael and nothing can convince him otherwise.

Director Carl Hunter and writer Frank Cottrell Boyce (Goodbye Christopher Robin) place this quirky comedy-drama in the present but the look, sets, music and players are stuck in the past.  Set in the north of England, Nighy’s northern accent is subtle, much like the film. Performances are very good and it’s a film which releases its pleasures carefully.

Accents and sharp suits aside, this story of love, loss and reconnection stayed with me.

3.5/5 Rated PG 91 mins Released March 14

Stars Bill Nighy, Sam Riley, Jenny Agutter, Tim McInnerny, Alice Lowe

Directed by Carl Hunter

Written by Frank Cottrell Boyce


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