Dir. Niall Johnson, UK, 2005, 103 mins
Rowan Atkinson, Kristin Scott Thomas, Maggie Smith, Patrick Swayze, Emilia Fox, Liz Smith
Walter Goodfellow (Atkinson) is the priest of Little Wallop (population 57). He lives there with his family, but is so occupied with writing his sermon that he is oblivious to the fact that his family desperately need him to pay them more attention. His wife Gloria (Thomas) is so unhappy she has given in to the likes of her sleazy golf instructor (Swayze). Walter's son is being bullied and his 17-year-old daughter is a nymphomaniac. To highlight how unobserved of his family he is, his daughter walks in with her bra over her shoulder and he doesn't realise till later on that day. Instead of talking to Walter, Gloria hires a nanny to help out. Grace (Smith), a sweet elderly woman, joins the family and untangles their lives by dealing with all their problems in her own 'magical' and unique way.
The audience attentions mainly lie with Gloria as we follow her woeful journey. Thomas's ability to strike a balance between screen magnetism and normality makes her character easy to relate to, essential given the extraordinarily strange situations she is presented with. Maggie Smith is wonderful as she plays Little Wallop's very own Mary Poppins, with a lining of Norman Bates. In fact, although the casting has slightly played to stereotypes (Rowan Atkinson once again playing the bumbling priest), all the lead characters are hugely enjoyable.
This is a very cleverly driven, well-paced film, similar to Fargo in terms of the dark humour, but mixed with British eccentricities. It will have you laughing at some pretty dark moments but at its heart is the need for family values and is a delightfully warming film to watch.