Phase9 Movies 2000-12

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Year: 2002
UK: Entertainment Film Distributors
Cast: Julie Walters, John Hannah, Patricia Hodge, Tom Wilkinson, Joanne Morley, Victoria Hamilton, Joanne Whalley, Theo Fraser Steele, John Biggins, Cassidy, Dermot Crowley, Fiona McAlpine, Hugh Ross, Andre Schneider, Jamie Sives
Director: Lewis Gilbert
Country: UK
UK: 95 mins
UK Certificate: 15 contains strong language and soft drug use
UK Release Date: 21 June 2002


When Violet Heaney's three daughters return home for her funeral, each sister finds her own way of coping with her loss. For Teresa, the eldest, it's herbal tea, obsessive cleaning and hectoring her long-suffering husband, Frank. Catherine, the youngest, resorts to retail therapy, industrial quantities of marijuana and manic phone calls to her elusive boyfriend in Barcelona. Middle daughter Mary seeks consolation in professional detachment and the arms of her lover, Mike. Like Mary, Mike is a doctor. Unlike Mary, he's married...

First to return to the childhood home by the sea is Catherine, the baby of the family and determined to hold onto that position well into adulthood. Catherine is convinced that she had a lousy childhood and although she can't recall specific incidents to prove her claim, it's a convenient excuse for never growing up. Mary is the next to arrive. Outwardly the successful daughter, she harbours a long-buried secret and a lasting resentment towards her mother. Mary has hardly unpacked before she begins a frantic search for a mysterious cookie tin that Teresa has hidden away in the garage. Teresa is the responsible one, the selfless sister who thanklessly looked after their mother in the months before her death. Teresa is wrapped a little too tight.

The sisters soon discover that their early memories have grown fuzzy over time and the past becomes fuzzier still as they attempt to cope with their mother's parting in the traditional fashion by drinking themselves into oblivion. In the days leading up to the final farewell, Vi's daughters struggle come to terms with their conflicting childhood memories and the trials and disappointments of their adult lives. Teresa is shocked to learn that Frank, far from being happy selling herbal remedies, dreams of opening a pub. Dumped by yet another boyfriend, Catherine faces up to the fact that having slept with an army doesn't help you to understand men. Mary discovers that she can't be pregnant with Mike's child and not only because he doesn't want her to have it. She also discovers the secret in the cookie tin.

The funeral preparations include a visit from the local priest who can't remember the name of the deceased and repeated visits from the deceased herself, as ever wearing an awful cocktail dress. Mary can't understand why her mother has chosen to haunt her alone. Teresa and Catherine can't see Violet's ghost (they can't see much of anything, frankly, after tucking into Catherine's stash and consuming a litre of duty-free vodka.)

It is gradually revealed that their mother's ghost has come to lay old resentments to rest before being towed to her own final resting place with the help of a musical ice-cream van...

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