Daddy Nostalgia is about mourning a loved one before they have died.
Dirk Bogarde, in his final role, plays 'Daddy' an aging English businessman who is recovering from a heart operation and living in the South of France - along the Cote D'Azur - with his rather bored wife (Odette Laure). His estranged daughter Caroline (Jane Birkin) - a screenwriter - comes to visit him. Knowing that this may be the final time she gets to spend with him she stays around for a while, takes him to the local bars - much to mom's chagrin - and gets Daddy to talk about the old days before, during and right after World War Two.
Directed by Bertrand Tavernier, the film is a bit uneven. One of the reasons is because the rapport between the actors seems off. Bogarde seems to be acting by himself, Odette Laurre, as mom, is mostly vacant and Jane Birkin is hot headed and irrational most of time for no apparent reason. In fact, her erratic behavior seems there to give the film some kind of authentic emotional - or sensitive - kick but really it just becomes annoying. [Plus, Birkin does not seem a likely daughter of Laure and Bogarde].
Bogarde is good but sometimes he seems to be trying to act, which could be because he is playing a man in pain. He is best when he is laid back and seemingly coasting through his role.
Part of the unexpected weakness of the film is the directing, shot selection, staging and editing. Tavernier, who is usually very solid on technical matters, seems to have had an off film with this one. At times the scenes seem to be shot and edited by a different crew. Sometimes the camera smoothly glides though a scene then suddenly the editing is very stagey. And at times the editing is so below par that it makes one wonder if Tavernier didn't have proper coverage in some scenes. In other scenes he stages important scenes between father and daughter with a background character out-of-focus right between the talking heads.
Tavernier has had made much better films - such as Life and Nothing But and It All Starts Today; two completely different films that are much more focused, tight and professional.
Part of the problem could be the screenplay, which was written by Bertrand's daughter Colo Tavernier O'Hagan. It is good in spots but pretty much hits the points you would expect for a film about a daughter coming to grips with the immanent death of a father she hardly knows. But it doesn't have much depth and seems to be lacking an extra emotional level.
That said, the film does pick up in the last hour when father and daughter take a trip to a couple bars and eventually to Cannes for a day where Daddy charms his daughter one last time.
The film is presented in letter box non-anamorphic aspect ratio of 2:35 to 1. The image is clean but a bit soft. Lensed by Agnes Godard the film has a lot of naturally lit scenes. Most of the set design is in drab colors, which fits the lives of the characters who have fallen into a mundane way of life. There is no compression artefact or edge enhancement noticeable.
Audio is in Dolby Digital French and English with removable English subtitles [that only pop up when French is spoken]. There is nothing particulary significant about the sound. The soundtrack is rather pedestrian with some 1940's music.
The only extra is a 35 minute conversation between Jane Birkin and Colo Tavernier O'Hagan. The conversation is notable for how many cigarettes both women smoke while sitting comfortably on a couch recalling the making of the film. There is not a whole lot remembered about Dirk Bogarde - or not as much as a Bogarde fan would want. But there is a lot of talk about fathers and daughters.
Daddy Nostalgia is an okay film by a great director and equally fine actor. The film is Dirk Bogarde's final role and since he plays an old man recalling the old days when life was better it seems appropriate. The DVD is above average with one modest extra. Rent it.