The Last Days of Dolwyn is a fictional drama based around events that surrounded the flooding of a Welsh village in 1892. Having been shunned from Dolwyn earlier in life Rob Davies (Emlyn Williams) returns from London with an offer to buy the village to make way for a new reservoir to supply the residents of Liverpool.
Whilst not without heart, it’s a shame to say that the film is for the most part fairly dull. Long periods of time pass where nothing much happens and your attention will wander. This may well be an accurate representation of Welsh rural life in 1892 but it does not make for an entertaining film.
Things do start to happen towards the end but it is at that same point the film takes a clumsy dive into melodrama. What started out as a socially relevant drama turns into something of a farce, leaving the film tonally all over the place and not entirely sure what it wants to be.
The performances aren’t too bad but the finest actors in the world would struggle to carve out personality from the stereotypes on display here. Richard Burton as young Gareth is clearly the highlight among the cast and the potential shown here is certainly reflected in his later roles.
The social statement made by the film is its strongest point. The destruction of Welsh villages to make way for reservoirs was a very real issue and something worth bringing to our attention. Its message doesn’t save the film but credit should go to Emlyn Williams for being bold enough to make a statement.
Overall whilst The Last Days of Dolwyn may not be the most entertaining watch, its attempt to deliver a valuable message means you may take something positive from the film. It is however probably a worthwhile purchase only for Burton completists or Welsh cinema aficionados.
On a side note to the film itself, the decision to only subtitle the English (and not the Welsh) dialogue seems unwise as there are large enough sections of the film made completely incomprehensible to those viewers who cannot speak Welsh.