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Stars: Susan Sarandon, Sam Neill, Kate Winslet, Mia Wasikowska, Rainn Wilson, Lindsay Duncan, Bex Taylor-Klaus, Anson Boon

Director: Roger Michell

Welcome once again to the dysfunctional American family (played by four Americans, two Aussies and two Brits), in this four-handkerchief weepie that couples inter-familial spats with the tricky subject of euthanasia. See it for the acting but unfortunately not much else.

Being filthy rich and living in an amazing house has not saved Lily (Sarandon) from contracting some kind of terminal motor neurone-type illness (perhaps ALS/Lou Gehrig's Disease), and, before she becomes a virtual vegetable, she has asked her doctor husband Paul (Neill) to administer a fatal dose of something.

On her last evening, she has invited her two daughters, Jen and Anna (Winslet, Wasikowska) with their partners (Wilson, Taylor-Klaus) to a farewell dinner, as well as Lily's longtime friend Liz (Duncan).

Jen and husband Michael bring their teenage son (Boon), while Anna has in tow her on-off trans partner Chris. Unnecessarily confrontational conversations are had from the start, and home truths are fitted in between games of charades and smoking marijuana together.

People shout and screech at one another an awful lot, but would Anna really so viciously slag off her dying mother at the last supper? Come to that, a lot of the dialogue does seem artificial, not at all like what you might expect from an occasion in which levity is in mighty short supply.

And could one family really have so many skeletons in their closet? Well, they all come tumbling out before Mom can finally rest in peace. Meanwhile, mournful violin music plays in the background, while the shooting star cliche is also not ignored. The film is crisply, cleanly shot, however, with West Sussex standing in for America's eastern seafront.

As a footnote, I did wonder, as Lily struggles down the stairs, why, when she and her husband are so wealthy, she doesn't at least have a stairlift. Makes for an extra hankie, I suppose. The title, perhaps, refers to the song ('Blackbird Bye Bye') but if anyone has any better ideas, we'd be glad to hear them. Available at video-on-demand.

David Quinlan

USA/UK 2019. UK Distributor: LionsGate. Colour (unspecified)(.
98 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 1, Swearing 3.

Review date: 03 Oct 2020