‘All happy families are alike. Each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.’ So said Tolstoy. But isn’t the truth that most of our families are somewhere in the middle of happy and unhappy – and completely unlike any other?
In this low-key but incredibly moving doc, the artist and filmmaker Karen Guthrie switches on her camera when she heads home to Largs in Scotland to care for her mum, who’s had a stroke. While she’s there, Guthrie starts scratching at the scabs of family secrets – you know, the Things that Go Unspoken in all families.
In her teens, her dad, an accountant, suddenly announced he was moving to Djibouti, a tiny country on the border with Ethiopia, and made another life for himself there (while still married to her mum). He’s now back in Scotland, a bulldozer of a man with a booming voice, constantly disappointed with his kids’ achievements. This film gives us the opportunity to take a fascinating poke around someone else’s family. And at the heart of it all is Guthrie’s mum, who even now is the gravity that holds them all together. It’ll make you want to phone your parents.