• Ellis Barthorpe

To Olivia ★★★★

John Hay

Starring Hugh Bonneville, Keeley Hawes, Sam Heughan, Geoffrey Palmer, Conleth Hill

Almost all of us alive today have read a Roald Dahl book. Perhaps as a child, being read to by a parent before going off to sleep; Or perhaps as that parent, being unabashed to admit that you really do enjoy hearing about Charlie and his Chocolate factory, or Matilda and her books. But Dahl himself, performed here by Hugh Bonneville had a life filled with torment and suffering amongst a loving family; and his relationship with Patricia Neal (Keeley Hawes) is explored in expert detail here.


With a change in direction from the countless biopics to recently grace our screens, Sky original, To Olivia focuses on a small chunk of the author's life. But it's not long before you are just as captivated by Patricia Neal, as much as you are the favoured author. And that's not least down to the performances from Bonneville and Hawes. The way the intricate screenplay unravels such a complicated relationship is beautiful to watch. And at no point does the script make light or sugar coat the tragedy amongst the joy. We are right there with them, feeling their pain, and hoping for better news.


The choices made by director John Hay are tremendous ones; just a shot of a tree says so much more than it ordinarily would. Hay also does an amazing job to capture the chaos of a family home; just the ring of a doorbell sets the dogs barking, voices rising and sends everyone into a frenzy. And although a few concepts are a little inconclusive, the moments that matter are painstakingly beguiling.


Gorgeously charming and full of electric chemistry, a film that isn't getting the hype it deserves. But I have a feeling that hype will come, and everyone will be trying to find their golden ticket to win the chance to feast their eyes on 99 minutes of painfully incredible storytelling.


To Olivia available Friday the 19th February on NowTV & Sky Movies

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