When Daniel (Daniel Cerqueira) receives a call from his mother, Maria (Gemma Jones), to say that his father, Leonard (Richard Johnson), is stuck on the sofa and can't get up he finds himself returning to their isolated cottage with little in the way of modern amenities. Daniel is shocked to discover the mess that his parents are living in from his father laying in his own excrement to the house full of rubbish which is attracting vermin. But sorting out his parents and the mess they live in is no easy task as he not only has to put up with his father trying to belittle him and make him feel like a failure but he also has to deal with the realisation that his mother has been intimidated and controlled by his father for many years. But a surprise turn of events turns everything on its head.
I think "Radiator" is the sort of movie which will appeal to a very specific audience, an audience of a certain age who have aging parents who live in the same house they have for years and who only see them once in a while. I may be wrong but because I can appreciate the feelings which Daniel have when he returns home and sees the mess his parents live in and the eccentric ways it works for me. It make me think of my own parents who by no means are as bad as what they are in this movie but have their own eccentric ways, have pile of old papers and junk all over the place and dirt in the rooms, although at least there is no vermin scurrying over the kitchen.
At the same time I can appreciate the relationship which we witness between Leonard and Maria where Maria has lived a life of being at his beck and call which has sapped her of her spirits. But we also see how Leonard doesn't what to change because he is happy with how things are probably oblivious to how bad he has become in being demanding and grumpy. In truth writer and director Tom Browne has done a brilliant job of bringing to life a situation that I am sure there are many will in some ways find familiar but done so in a semi humorous manner as we find ourselves laughing at the eccentricity of his father but also the situation with out making fun of it.
It is also worth mentioning that Richard Johnson delivers one heck of a strong performance as the grumpy, set in his ways and demanding Leonard and at times reminds of a similar character which Michael Gambon once played. But Daniel Cerqueira is just as good as the loyal son being quickly driven to his wits end by his father and the way he has become.
What this all boils down to is that "Radiator" is an amusing but touching look at a situation which many of us will be aware of when are parents become old and eccentric. But I reckon this is the sort of movie which works best for those who can connect with the characters and the situation as for some it might seem a bit too far fetched.