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When Helen (Gina McKee) receives a visit from a doctor to tell her that her brother Declan (Keith McErlean) is in the final stages of AIDS she is shocked as he had kept his illness a secret. But it is up to Helen to break the news to both her homophobic mother Lily (Dianne Wiest) and also her grannie Dora (Angela Lansbury) who she and Declan stayed with when they were children as her coastal home. It is where he wishes to spend his final days with his family and his boyfriend helping to look after him. But it means that Helen, her mother and her grandmother must deal with old issues which cause them to struggle to get on.
"The Blackwater Lightship" may have a character dying from Aids at its centre it is really a look at 3 generations of the same family. We have the wise Dora who having become old is a little mischievous with what she says and is clever in a smartly amusing way. We have her pushy daughter who is abrupt, short with everyone especially her family as she bosses them around. And then we have Helen who has had to deal with the brunt of her mum's pushy nature over the years, causing them to be come distant.
What we get alongside this is through flashbacks to Helen's childhood a look at how things got this way with Helen and her brother staying with their grandmother when their father was taken ill. All of which makes "The Blackwater Lightship" a sentimental movie of people dealing with their past and dealing with the current situation as friendships are formed and forgiveness is given. The thing is for me this generational drama just didn't draw me in and it was more a case of individual scenes working such as when Dora intentionally winds up Lily over Declan's male visitors.
What this all boils down to is that "The Blackwater Lightship" has the potential to be a charming tale of 3 generations of the same family. But for me it didn't draw me in like it has done for others and it is a case that some scenes work better than others.