You would have thought the director of Educating Rita and Shirley Valentine would be on safe ground adapting a play for the screen. But Lewis Gilbert's best days are behind him judging by this mawkish mishmash - a family comedy spliced, unwisely, with supernatural melodrama.
The octogenarian helmer's attempts to open out Shelagh Stephenson's original are conspicuously laboured, the dialogue scenes forced apart by clumsily inserted scenic vistas of the Isle of Man (its Film Commission being one of the main investors). It'sno fault of Julie Walters, Joanne Whalley and Victoria Hamilton, who deliver heartfelt performances as estranged sisters reunited by their mum's funeral (Last Orders anyone?). But the intrusive score crudely signposts every plot twist, tearful revelation and ghostly visitation from the late Violet (Patricia Hodge wafting around in an ill-fitting gown).
What's more, Tom Wilkinson's presence as Walters' hubby only succeeds in prompting memories of In The Bedroom, a movie that tackled bereavement with far more assurance.