Nighy steps into the shoes of Alan, a semi-retired tailor whose measured and debonair demeanour has driven his adult son, Peter (Riley) to the fringes. Alan has never fully come to grips with the disappearance of his son, Michael, two decades prior. Michael stormed out of the family home after an innocuous argument over a game of Scrabble, never to be seen again. Now Alan is obsessed with Scrabble; a walking dictionary partial even to hustling unsuspecting players he meets on his travels. Dealing with loss and searching for answers, he heads off to reconnect with Peter and together they embark on a life-changing journey.
Scripted by Frank Cottrell Boyce, the dialogue bristles with wry exchanges and throwaway wit while the central performances share an effortlessly charming, self-depreciating quality. Bill Nighy’s minimalist, deadpan delivery underlines Alan’s arrogance, which he wears like a perfectly tailored suit. Sam Riley is similarly excellent as Peter, a persistent source of dark humour throughout.
Sweet without cloying, it’s a quirky, quintessentially British affair. (Research Chris Coetsee) As Bill Nighy plays himself effortlessly, so why the effort for a distracting, and patchy mid-Mersey accent…?