Eric Styles (director)
11 May 2018 (released)
09 May 2018
Based on a play by NJ Crisp and adapted for the screen by Charles Savage the story of a terminally ill writer living in Portugal, trying to re-establish a relationship with his son That Good Night is Sir John Hurt’s last film in a leading role.
Ralph (John Hurt) is a writer living in Portugal and has had better days both professionally and healthwise. He’s asked his estranged son Michael (Max Brown) to divert his journey to Seville as he has to see him. This has annoyed Michael no-end having had virtually no contact with his father (whom he calls Ralph) for years, and never having been to the villa. Greeted by Anna (Sofia Helin) Ralph’s much younger and loving wife, who’s as much in the dark as Michael is about the request.
Ralph hadn’t counted on Cassie (Erin Richards) Michael’s fiancée, and wilfully or not, makes her very uncomfortable at home and when they go for a meal, where he proceeds to denigrate her profession as conference organiser. It’s a spiteful, mean Ralph that Hurt doesn’t ham up, so draining the character of a lot of sympathy, just when he needs it.
As Ralph gets weaker he’s visited by a stranger (Charles Dance) in a white suit, whom he’s glimpsed around the property. The Visitor explains he is from ‘the society’, who are there to advise and help, if necessary, all for a price. He seems to be offering euthanasia though during the conversations they have, that (and he) become much more ambiguous and Ralph, maybe not realising it, has reserves of will to draw on.
It’s something to savour seeing Hurt and Dance spar and parry in a most gentlemanly manner; one wouldn’t expect anything else, and these are the by far the most engaging scenes as they meditate on life and mortality.
Clearly the fact that this is Hurt’s last film will be the main, possibly only draw as in all other aspects (apart from the scenes with Dance) there’s little recommend it. Its functionally directed by Eric Styles, in a functionally idyllic setting, with functional performances from the rest of the cast, and it’s not aided one jot by an incessant and sickly, cloying soundtrack.