Written by Frank Cottrell-Boyce and directed by feature-debutant Carl Hunter, this is a comedy-drama with a strong accent on place (Merseyside) and family. Starring Bill Nighy as Alan, an eccentric ex-tailor (the title is sartorial advice), the story revolves around the search for an estranged son and how this impacts on the other son, played by Sam Riley, who didn’t disappear.
The theme is strained relationships, but enacted through the British fondness for slightly absurd rituals of conflict, here in the form of high-stakes Scrabble. In addition to an excellent cast, the film benefits from a strong visual design and a sensitive soundtrack by Edwyn Collins and Sean Read.
“This tale of a Scrabble-obsessed family is never too pushy: it has a likeably meandering quality, and a warmth that creeps in from scene to scene.” Tim Robey, Telegraph.
“There’s a beguiling Englishness to this elegant, offbeat comedy-drama … It has a wonderful syncopation in its writerly rhythm and narrative surprises. The film positively twinkles with insouciance, and is performed with aplomb.” Peter Bradshaw, Guardian.
“It really gets Scrabble. And there’s real respect for the comfort that logophilia, wordplay and the precise, coolly comprehensible rules of the game might provide, especially for someone like Alan, who is painfully aware of how much outside the board’s calming, colorful grid is beyond his control.” Jessica Kiang, Variety.