Veteran producer David Puttnam and director Hudson team up for the first time since the 1981 Academy Award winning Chariots of Fire for My Life So Far, based on the childhood autobiography of British television executive and ace flyer, Sir Dennis Foreman. The script by British writer, Simon Donald, is a faithful adaptation of Foreman's book, 'Son of Adam'. The spirited Frazer (Norman) is one of six children in an extraordinary Scottish family, living in an idyllic Highland estate before the eruption of WWII. An idealised Scotland of the 1920's, stunningly recreated in design and costume, is the backdrop to Frazer witnessing strange happenings.These concern his immediate relatives, including his father Edward (Firth), whom he idolises, and a visiting uncle (Malcolm McDowell) and his French fiancee (Jacob). But this is not just a family tale. There are some interesting historical allusions. Frazer's dad is an eccentric inventor, Beethoven lover, and founder of the only moss factory in Europe. The moss, which had medicinal properties, was used as a life-saver in WWI.
Karyo (La Femme Nikita) plays The Emperor of the Air who literally drops in and dazzles the young women of the family, whilst there are touching musical moments by Jacob as the cellist fiancee and Mastrantonio as Frazer's mother. Rosemary Harris is formidable as the matriarch.
Puttnam, once the 'enfant terrible' of British cinema, who took on Hollywood in the late 80's, is perhaps resting on his laurels after a string of greats including The Killing Fields and The Mission. Not that there's anything wrong with this movie - it's simply not of the calibre one would expect. Consciously or otherwise, this rather 'establishment' piece perpetuates the manufactured Celtic myth.Its attempt to recreate 'a time of innocence' may well be a reaction against the social reality of the new Scottish cinema, and films such as Danny Boyle's Trainspotting and Ken Loach's My Name is Joe. ---Marlene Abrams