A Family Affair: Review

A Family Affair: Review

A Family Affair: Review. By Joe Muldoon.

A poorly-rated silent retreat, a bumbling manager trying to appease his in-laws, creditors out for blood, an impromptu property auction; A Family Affair is quiet chaos in its most quintessentially British form. Though set over a single day in the British countryside, filming took place over 12 days in Cape Town – hence the abundance of sun and enviable lack of rain. Leading the caper –in his first leading role, no less– is comedy circuit stalwart Joe Wilkinson, who plays Edward, the bungling manager and co-investor of a country manor retreat.

Operating the silent spiritual retreat alongside his wife Helen (Laura Aikman), Edward attempts to keep the place afloat – scathing resident reviews and the bank threatening foreclosure have other plans. With Helen’s parents Margaret (Jane Asher) and Walter (Michael Maxwell) set to arrive for their 40th wedding anniversary celebration and Edward’s newly-widowed father Albert (David Sherwood) arriving with a much younger date, Jessica (Jazzara Jaslyn), things are already off to a rocky start.



And they’re set to get a whole lot worse when, unbeknownst to Helen, the bank has organised for a public auction of the manor to coincide with her parents’ anniversary. Luckily, Edward has the resident spiritual “guru” Rhys (Colin Hoult) on-hand, mincing around the manor in an effort to keep the peace – excuse the pun. With prospective buyers wandering around scoping the property, Margaret zonked out by Rhys’ mystery herbal tea, and Jessica eyeing up Walter, disorder ensues.

Underneath the wonderfully entertaining antics is a moving meditation (the puns are flowing freely) on love, grief, and family. Though his in-laws –particularly Margaret– aren’t particularly fond of Edward, he still makes an effort to appease them in order to please Helen. And it’s apparent that Albert’s relationship with his late wife wasn’t quite a fairytale. Wilkinson and Aikman have a peculiar but genuinely sweet and charming chemistry between them, and it’s a shame they don’t share much screen time together.

South African writer-director Warren Fischer has been open about the inspiration that British comedy (notably Blackadder and Monty Python) has had upon him, and it shows. A Family Affair is the culmination of decades of absurdist comedy, and its execution is a ridiculous set of events that lacks explosive consequences but is overflowing with delicious drama. And to its great credit, the credits include a bloopers reel – we need to bring these back!

By Joe Muldoon.


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