That Good Night Review

Sir John Hurt In His Final Film


Wow. What to say? For over 50 years John Hurt has wowed audiences on stage and screen in a glittering career.

From the early days of Z Cars on TV to a literal break-out in Alien, there are so many great films and roles it would be impossible to select just one.

His final film is That Good Night, based on the play by N. J. Crisp and written for the screen by debut writer Charles Savage with Eric Styles (Legendary, Tempo) behind the camera.

It tells the story of a once-famous screenwriter, Ralph, currently living out his twilight years in Portugal and now a cantankerous old so-and-so who seemingly hates everyone and everything.

After surviving open-heart surgery he’s dealt more bad news with the diagnoses of ALS (also known as Lou Gehrig’s), a terminal disease.

Ralph doesn’t want to be a burden to his wife Anna, Sofia Helin (The Bridge (TV), The Snowman), so decides he’s going to end his life early.

He aims to do this with the help of ‘The Society’, who arrive at his villa in the shape of The Visitor, Charles Dance (Game Of Thrones (TV), Pride And Prejudice And Zombies).

Before he goes, Ralph wants to see his estranged son Michael, Max Brown (The Royals (TV), The Tudors (TV)), one final time. Michael brings his girlfriend Cassie, Erin Richards (Gotham (TV), Open Grave), whom Ralph takes an instant dislike to.

However, when Michael announces he and Cassie are to be married, and that she’s pregnant, Ralph suddenly has something to live for, something he wants to see. But has he left it all too late?

As I said, the story is incredibly moving, part of which is obviously down to knowing this is Hurt’s final role. Equally though, the story itself is so wonderfully told, it’s hard not be moved.

That Good Night is a gentle movie, punctuated with raucous outbursts by Hurt as his characters contempt for small-talk, which he doesn’t do, and his ‘low boredom threshold’ kick-in.

Both Hurt and Dance are delightful together on screen. These two old pros just make it all look so effortless and simple. It’s a delight to watch.

Styles directs with aplomb, helped admirably by Cinematography from Richard Stoddard (Doctor Who (TV), The Passing), both of whom play with the lighting and shadows of a sunny Portugal in a beautiful way.

At just an hour and a half the film zips along, leaving you wanting more, though given the subject matter, the casting, perhaps not. I’m not sure I could face more emotion than the film already throws at you.

That may sound like I’m moaning, I’m not. That Good Night is a wonderful, beautiful, delightful little film with fantastic performances. It’s gut-wrenching to watch and had me in tears on more than one occasion. We will miss you Sir John Hurt, I hope that infectious laugh is lighting up wherever you are.

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