Producer David Puttnam and director Hugh Hudson's last collaboration was the Academy Award-winning best picture of 1981, CHARIOTS OF FIRE. Almost two decades later, they bring you MY LIFE SO FAR, about a young boy named Fraser (Robert Norman) who recalls life at the age of 10.Taking us back to Scotland in the 1920s, Hudson and Puttnam present a visually masterful piece of filmmaking. With a huge castle-like ancestral home surrounded in dark, forest-green, woodsy highlands, the film encompasses a beautiful landscape in a picturesque setting. However, looks aren't everything.
Simplicity in and of itself, the story of Fraser with his mumsy (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio), his father (Colin Firth), his gamma (Rosemary Harris), his uncle (Malcolm McDowell) and his siblings living their upper-class life, in a memoir told by Fraser, amounts to a very mundane and little more than normal, insignificant tale based on Sir Denis Forman's book SON OF ADAM.
What keeps the film sturdy on its own two feet, along with the exquisite scenery, are the performances. Firth, in particular, as the wildly eccentric father who has a knack for inventing completely worthless products, i.e. a chimney that blows the smoke underground and a tire-tube with pedals and handles, is superb. Firth is subtle and assured as a man trying to break free from the rich family he married into and be distinct and resourceful on his own. In the role of the well-to-do wife, Mastrantonio, as always, is natural and camera-friendly while Norman as the bewildered adolescent is sweet and moving as the inquisitive Fraser, begging for answers to life's perplexities.
Unfortunately, the story is what holds these great talents back. Dragging periodically and breaking the dramatic rhythm, the film erratically wanders off in different directions without purpose. The faltering and at times dull scenes Hudson and Puttnam felt necessary to keep in MY LIFE SO FAR keep the natural process of the story flowing. At times the movie is flat-out boring without any plot redemption come movie's end.Still charming to look at and helped enormously by the acting, MY LIFE SO FAR isn't without merit. Just don't expect an insightful and intriguing remembrance.-- Pamela Harland