Did you have fun as a kid with your siblings? Argue with them as adults? Were your parents imperfect or absent? Did your grandparents dote on you? Got any family secrets? Do any childhood wounds still need healing? If any of this is true about you, you may feel right at home watching When We Last Spoke.
Based on Marci Henna’s novel of the same name, this film features Oscar-winner Cloris Leachman (The Last Picture Show), Corbin Bernsen (Psych, L.A. Law), Melissa Gilbert (Little House on the Prairie), Darby Camp (Big Little Lies, The Christmas Chronicles) and Chandler Head (The Glass Castle). This ReelWorks movie is in US theaters for four nights, Oct. 27 and 29-31.
Set in 1967 and 1996, it’s a fun, entertaining, family-friendly, thought provoking story about mixed-up family relations, hurts and hopes, family secrets, learning the truth, and the value of forgiveness. Young sisters Juliet and Evangeline miss their dad, who’s serving in the Vietnam War. Then their mom decides to abandon childrearing in the small-town U.S. South to pursue a singing career in New York City.
That leaves grandpa Walt (Bernsen) and grandma Ruby (Gilbert) to care for the sisters. Backyard shenanigans, yummy ice cream sundaes, a schoolyard bully, mayonnaise hair treatment (lice-killer), and toilet-papering a neighbor’s tree keep the girls busy. That and dancing to 1960s pop music with Ruby as they work in the kitchen. When Walt’s elderly mom Itasca (Leachman) — fading, with memory loss — comes to stay in the two-bedroom home, the laughs multiply.
Itasca keeps referring to her late husband as if he were there, encourages the girls to learn poetry, and even tries to teach them ballet…while seated in a rolling desk chair.
“When We Last Spoke is a warm-hearted story that follows the life of a funny, quirky family who have experienced their fair share of trials,” says producer Rick Eldridge. “In partnership with Fathom Events, we are pleased to be bringing a film to theaters that speaks to the important topics of family, love and forgiveness.”
WWLS is loaded with significant themes. These particularly impressed me (probably because I can relate personally to all of them):
• Caring for your family
• Sibling spats
• Life and death
• Intergenerational communication
• Dealing with disappointment
• Why does God allow evil and suffering?
• Forgiveness and reconciliation
• Fun 1960s music
The denouement reminded me of some excellent relationship advice I read from an early follower of Jesus: “Make a clean break with all cutting, backbiting, profane talk. Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you.”