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The late John Hurt shines as Ralph Maitland, a terminally ill writer who receives his ‘final deadline’ and must come to terms with his impending mortality. The story centres on his unaffectionate attempt to re-unite with his estranged son Michael (Max Brown), also a writer and the conflict and old wounds that re-surface as a result.

Audiences should connect with this story of family relationships, which also cleverly delves into euthanasia and the effect this would have on surviving family members.

Ralph considers his wife Anna (Sofia Helin) as his best friend, but would his untimely death ultimately inflict suffering on her? Would this ‘dignified death’ deprive his wife of their last few months of time to talk and express their feelings together? The ideology that the surviving partner can draw comfort and strength from their final weeks together is explored.

This film is uniquely invigorated by the inclusion of a seemingly angelic ‘mystery visitor’ (Charles Dance) dressed in a white suit who ‘facilitates departures’. This compounds to the intrigue and originality of a story which has been told numerous times on the big screen.

Birth, aging and death are effectively dealt with little sensitivity in this noble film, which resonates the importance of family and principally that life is precious and must be preserved at all costs. (MMo)

★★★1/2

Screening at the British Film Festival. Tickets & Info: www.britishfilmfestival.com.au