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137. To Olivia; movie review

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Title : 137. To Olivia; movie review
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Cert 12
99 mins
BBFC advice: Contains infrequent strong language

Never has there been a better opportunity to show the importance of vaccinations but To Olivia misses that open goal.
Roald Dahl is one of the world's most beloved authors and Patricia Neal was an Oscar-winning actress and their young daughter could have been saved if she had received the jab against measles.
Indeed, Dahl, campaigned for decades on the subject.
But there is only a postscript reference to it in John Hay's maudlin movie which stars Hugh Bonneville and Keeley Hawes.
Indeed, there is much tumult in Dahl and Neal's life but To Olivia only concentrates on the tragedy of Olivia and the dramatic immediate fall-out.
At the time Dahl was yet to make his mark as an author and had agonised over James And The Giant Peach which had not been a commercial success.
However, his children, Olivia (Darcey Ewart) and Tessa (Isabella Jonsson) were used to dad being a storyteller supreme, making up tales for every occasion.
Their more famous mum is portrayed as going through a confidence crisis and yet to settle on a quality script to follow up her early glory.
Nevertheless, money worries aside, their lives in a picture-postcard English village seem idyllic.
And then Olivia catches measles and dies within a week.
As a parent, I understand that there can be nothing worse than losing a child and Mrs W and I have mused many times that our lives would be shattered.
However, the portrayal of Dahl's spiral of despair is simply dull.
In reality, he proved himself to be more stoic, especially when Neal when on to have three brain aneurysms in pregnancy just three years later.
Unfortunately, that is another key moment in their marriage which doesn't even get an airing here.
Indeed, the subject matter was just too narrow to bring out the best of the Dahl/Neal story.

Reasons to watch: The issue of vaccinations is so important
Reasons to avoid: Misses a big opportunity

Laughs: None
Jumps: None
Vomit: None
Nudity: None
Overall rating: 5/10

Did you know? 
Roald Dahl came up with more than 500 new words and character names such as the Oompa-Loompas and scrumdiddlyumptious from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and snozzcumbers and frobscottle from the BFG.  He called his language Gobblefunk.  Oxford University Press created a special Roald Dahl Dictionary, featuring almost 8,000 real and imaginary words which he loved to use.

The final word. Hugh Bonneville: "The fact that Roald and Pat became vocal supporters of the vaccination programme for measles has an extraordinary resonance now. The film emphasises the importance of it and how Olivia’s life would have been saved, had a usable or reliable vaccine been available.” Independent

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