To Olivia review: glossy tale should really have been a dark gem. It isn’t


ere’s a tantalising portrait of Roald Dahl’s marriage to salty Hollywood star Patricia Neal, which facts how catastrophic activities (which includes the reduction of the couple’s seven calendar year daughter, Olivia, in 1962) bled into Dahl’s crafting of the children’s classic Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and Neal’s gloriously defiant effectiveness in Hud.

Hugh Bonneville (Dahl) and Keeley Hawes (Neal) are really watchable. They’re intensely hampered, on the other hand, by a whimsical script that frequently feels like propaganda for the problematic Dahl model (past year his relatives quietly posted a statement apologising for the ‘lasting and understandable hurt’ prompted by his anti-semitism).

Director/co-author John Hay results in a superfluous phantom, Dahl’s sweet, schoolboy self, who hangs out in the writer’s drop, sucking a lollipop. Exit ghost? Alas, no. This a single can take ages to bugger off.

Talking of Dahl’s early many years, there’s no mention of the truth that Dahl’s possess sister died when she was 7 and that, when she did so, his father shed the will to are living. How could any one checking out the impact of Olivia’s demise not see that as suitable?

When acknowledging that a grief-stricken and generally sozzled Dahl was hard on his delicate 2nd-born, Tessa (Isabella Jonsson excellent), the movie insists that by the time Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was published the small girl’s existence was peachy. Tessa Dahl’s 2012 memoir suggests if not she describes remaining medicated into submission from childhood to adolescence.

The movie also gives the perception that what didn’t eliminate Dahl and Neal’s relationship produced it more robust. Hmm. We’re instructed that, pre-Charlie…, silly grown ups didn’t get the “twisted” Dahl and needed him to be additional like Enid Blyton. It is ironic, then, that Hay has Blyton-ed the hell out of a tale which could and must have been a darkish gem.

99 mins, cert PG. Sky Cinema