The Parting Glass review: True Blood’s Stephen Moyer makes his directorial debut with this honest, raw story of family, love, loss and grieving.

The Parting Glass review by Awais Irfan.

The Parting Glass review
The Parting Glass review

Receiving its world premiere at this year’s Edinburgh Film Festival, True Blood alum Stephen Moyer’s directorial debut The Parting Glass brings together a star-studded cast to tell an honest, raw story of family, love, loss and grieving.

Based on a true story (an experience that writer and star of this Denis O’Hare himself went through), The Parting Glass takes place over the course of a single day. Following the death of their sister Colleen (Anna Paquin), Daniel (O’Hare), Al (Melissa Leo) and Mare (Cynthia Nixon) set off on a road trip alongside their abrasive father Tommy (Ed Astner) and Colleen’s ex-husband Karl (Rhys Ifans) to collate her things from her old flat; along the way, this family come together once again as they reminisce over their cherished familial moments and their memories of Colleen.

The Parting Glass is a thoughtful piece; essentially, this is a story of human encounter and follows this family as they remember Colleen – patching who she was through their memories. As a result, it’s a great platform for acting and the performances are all superb – the palpable chemistry between this cast is believable and they make a convincing, dysfunctional family unit. Everyone gets their scene to shine, but O’Hare and Ifans are the standouts. However, great acting aside, there isn’t much to this film. Given that not much takes place during the narrative, it’s mundane but the characters themselves are so weakly developed that it means their interactions and bickering is all just so boring to watch and ultimately very forgettable. They go from diner to diner and it quickly feels repetitive and plodding; there are a handful of scenes that stick out and remain fairly poignant but they’re too few and far between to really keep this engaging.

It’s hard to critique this story given it actually happened to O’Hare himself, but, when you’re creating a film, it needs to remain compelling. The dialogue here feels clunky and the attempts at humour really fall flat and create a very muddled tone, going from trying to be funny one moment to emotional and heavy the next and it doesn’t feel quite as seamless as it could. Moyer’s direction is fine and I liked the way in which Paquin’s character was created through fragmented memories throughout the narrative but given that the characters and the story feel so weightless, there just isn’t a lot to really ground this story with the depth it needs. For a film about grieving, one that should be fairly emotional, it’s sadly very emotionless. The potential is there but it just feels too muddied and cluttered to really stick the landing; thus, this film ends up being dull and wholly unmemorable – it becomes an exercise in constantly checking your watch, just waiting to part from The Parting Glass.

The Parting Glass review by Awais Irfan, June 2018.

The Parting Glass was reviewed at the 2018 Edinburgh International Film Festival.

The Parting Glass