Small film, big delight. New Zealand playwright-turned-director Toa Fraser has made a fine fist of adapting the curious, titular 1930s book by idiosyncratic Anglo-Irish writer Lord Dunsany. Jeremy Northam, in a characteristically unostentatious performance, is our sympathetic guide through this tantalising trip into the strange world(s) of Edwardian England. He plays the long-suffering son of ageing curmudgeon Peter O’Toole, to whom he introduces Sam Neill’s eccentric Dean, thus triggering a series of evening conversations which conjure up all manner of mind-boggling revelations elicited from liberal libations of a rare Hungarian Tokay wine… The director’s comfort in his surroundings –whether it be comportment, dress or interior design – match his gently mischievous delight in the vagaries of the custom-locked but free-ranging mind of the time. This nicely acted drama, in quietly intimating the quirky familial relations and peculiar fascinations of the era – not least with the transmigration of souls, mysticism and the supernatural – delivers a highly pleasurable if modest experience and a sweet tribute to the old traditions of the shaggy dog story.