“We all become stories one day”.
Roald Dahl is known across the world for his comical and “twisted” novels that have helped raise generations of children. And yet, few seem to know the man behind the words nor the family who buoyed him towards success. To Olivia is Dahl’s own story brought to life – based upon Stephen Michael Shearer’s biography, An Unquiet Life, the film follows the children’s writer and his family as they navigate their way through an unspeakable tragedy.
Hugh Bonneville steps effortlessly into the role of the author – and it goes without saying that those were big shoes to fill (Dahl himself being 6’6) – portraying a slightly eccentric yet ultimately grief-stricken man on the brink of a creative jackpot (enter Charlie and the Chocolate Factory). Due praise must also be awarded to Keeley Hawes whose portrayal of Patricia Neal is equally enthralling. Throughout, the duo is supported by an impressive cast, including Geoffrey Palmer as Geoffrey Fisher, the archbishop of Canterbury, in what turned out to be his last feature role.
With a screenplay by David Logan and John Hay, the latter of whom also serves as the director, the film is a thoughtful yet harrowing exploration of grief and how it can settle into the cracks of one’s very being. Despite the complicated subject matter, the work manages to lift any feelings of melancholy, proving that things can and will get better. And when they do, new tales are waiting to be told.
Furthermore, the movie is sure to delight any fans of the novelist, who will be quick to spot the numerous references to his beloved tales peppered throughout the production; from the real-life Augustus Gloop to a particularly tasty-looking peach. In short, To Olivia is an entertaining piece of escapism and a story that deserves to be heard.
To Olivia is released on Sky Cinema on 19th February 2021.
Watch the trailer for To Olivia here: