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Lochgoilhead Forever

average rating is 4 out of 5


Chris Buick


Posted on:

Mar 31, 2024

Film Reviews
Lochgoilhead Forever
Directed by:
Liam Martin
Written by:
Liam Martin
Liam Martin

Travelling with his father to finally clear out his late grandparent’s home in the Scottish Highlands, documentary filmmaker Liam Martin’s deeply personal and brave decision to document this pilgrimage back to Scotland offers a very brief but intimate window into an engaging and emotional father-son relationship where almost nothing is said but almost everything is felt.


Lochgoilhead Forever is no doubt a brave venture from Martin given how open they are with such a personal story, but it’s one that will no doubt speak to many and judging from the well-deserved reaction the film has received, it already has. In part, it’s a brilliant study of how most parents eventually, in the eyes of their children, stop being perceived as almost infallible deities, instead just as flawed and misguided as everyone else. But what Lochgoilhead Forever is, more than anything else, is a story about the acceptance of that fact.


Early on, we get to understand that this return to Scotland isn’t one that is going to necessarily bring to the fore a host of fond and happy memories. In the film’s opening moments, the only time when Martin or anyone addresses the viewer directly, we are offered just enough of a baseline as to the history of the relationship at hand, one filled with its share of pain and sadness born out of anger, alcohol and the breakdown of family.


But the film doesn’t dwell on the why or what was or could have been, what’s important is the what now, and from there Martin lets the film speak for itself. As they tend to the long-neglected house, leafing through old photos and gathering up chintzy old knick-knacks, it’s then through simple observation of Martin’s father we see that, despite everything, Martin and his father’s relationship is still one filled with love and affection for each other, even if it can never explicitly be said. It’s incredible how, through letting us simply see rather than tell, Martin is able to convey infinitely more about his and his father’s story than a million words ever could.


But the film’s stand-out moments are in the father’s quiet reflections being back in this place, where his true emotions and mannerisms constantly belie his stubborn and adamant words. Again, it’s a film about acceptance, not just for Martin as to the man his father is, but for his father’s own pain and grief at the memories such a visit brings back to him, and one of if not the film’s most poignant touching moment that encapsulates it all is his father contemplating not letting the house go at all, his words reasoning that it would be a hassle for everyone, but we can see his eyes unable to hide a deep, wistful sadness and unwillingness to let it all go.


Incredibly authentic and deftly made, Lochgoilhead Forever is like watching the final chapter of a long and interesting story that of course, makes you wish you knew more but more importantly, makes you feel simply grateful to Martin for deciding to share his story with us.

About the Film Critic
Chris Buick
Chris Buick
Documentary, Short Film
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