Second Best Review

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Graham Holt is a lonely middle-aged man who runs a postal substation in a small village in England. He decides to adopt a son


Hurt is quietly and powerfully impressive in the face of his surprising casting as a Welsh village postmaster and a lonely bachelor seeking to adopt a son in this earnest, emotional drama, adapted by David Cook from his own novel. Unhappily, Hurt bears the burden of a film in which too little else is on the level. His Graham Holt is a quiet, withdrawn man who has lived all his life in the same cramped home in Llanguallo. A bespectacled, red-headed loner, he was excluded from his parents’ relationship, and now that his mum is dead he’s left to care for his silent, always disapproving, stroke victim father.
When a disturbed 10-year-old boy, James (Chris Cleary Miles) is put up for adoption, Graham believes fatherhood would enable him to give of himself. And, of course, his patience, love and longing to be leaned on are just what the unpredictable, rage-filled youngster needs. As their relationship cautiously progresses, Graham examines his own past, while undergoing a lengthy process of vetting to assure the social services he’s not a pervert. Meanwhile, young Jimmy is haunted by the mystery surrounding his dead mother and the loyalty he feels to his hard nut imprisoned father (Allen).
The most glaring problem in this unusual male story of love, bonding and belonging is that the youngster really isn’t very good in an extremely demanding role. The supporting performances, too, are mostly throwaways, and Jane Horrocks’ social worker strikes a note of absurdity. For much of his screen time, then, Hurt is working his socks off in something of an emotional and dramatic vacuum. That he holds one’s interest and sympathies ups the film’s watchability rating by one solid star.

Touching, if slight drama