Rory’s Way

by Toby Woollaston

The Etruscan Smile
Po Valley Productions Ltd 
041916.The giant acting talent of Brian Cox (Churchill) tackles the role of a cantankerous old Scotsman, Rory, who is forced from his peaty shores across the pond to seek medical treatment in San Francisco. A preference for rough-hewn edges rather than America’s modern clean lines, Rory also uses the trip to begrudgingly reconnect with his son Ian, after a fifteen-year absence. Ian is a chemist-come-chef whose Heston Blumenthal styled ultra-modern gastronomic creations wow patrons with their smokey bluster and gelatinous wonder—a far cry from Rory’s preference for black pudding and two veg. Unsurprisingly, the two don’t see eye to eye.

The film riffs on the rural-foreigner-visits-big-city-America schtick—a tired routine that threatens to turn this film into Crocodile Dundee for old Scottish folk. Thankfully it doesn’t go quite that far, and broader themes that compare the quaint with the modern fall away in favour of a standard father-son tale. Of course, a crowdpleaser of this nature wouldn’t be complete without some light romance with the much younger looking (sigh) Rosanna Arquette. Suffice to say that Rory’s Way doesn’t break much fresh ground and appears to be content with running a by-the-numbers routine that snuggles up to a very risk-free screenplay and a comfy score drumming to the bland beat of “mediocre”. It’s disappointingly formulaic and something I don’t normally go for. Yet, it is also undeniably a likeable crowdpleaser providing just enough silky-smooth pleasantries to gently usher your brain towards its predictable ending.

Feature debutants, directors Oded Binnun and Mihal Brezis, have clearly played things safe, which unfortunately deals a stifling blow to Cox’s immense talent. Also worth noting is that JJ Feild (Austenland) who plays Ian, cuts an uncanny similarity to Tom Hiddleston (with a hint of a young Gabriel Byrne). But his lack of the same screen presence as the aforementioned fittingly reflects a film that seems to care more about image than substance, and like Ian’s molecular gastronomy, Rory’s Way feels synthetically manufactured for easy digestion.

See my reviews for the NZ Herald here and for Witchdoctor here.