‘When We Last Spoke’ movie: Kids’ dreams, family secrets, forgiveness

By Rusty Wright

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, October 27 and 29-31.

Dad?  Mom?

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.

Family quirks

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):

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.” 

In When We Last Spoke, the major forgiveness does not come quickly.  But it’s sweet when it finally does.  Well worth watching in this topsy-turvy, COVID-era film entertainment calendar.

www.WhenWeLastSpokeMovie.com    In theaters October 27 and 29-31 (USA)

Rusty Wright is an author and lecturer who has spoken on six continents.  He holds Bachelor of Science (psychology) and Master of Theology degrees from Duke and Oxford universities, respectively.  www.RustyWright.com

Copyright © 2020 Rusty Wright

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Editors:  Note pictures below.  For access to these images and more, check here.

WWLS poster
Walt (Corbin Bernsen), Juliet (Darby Camp) and Evangeline (Chandler Head).
Ruby (Melissa Gilbert).
Evangeline and Juliet playfully dance with their great-grandmother, Itasca (Cloris Leachman).