Skip to main content
BFI logo











Screenonline banner
Long Roads, The (1993)


Warning: screenonline full synopses contain 'spoilers' which give away key plot points. Don't read on if you don't want to know the ending!

Peter and Kitty McVurrick live on a small farm on the Isle of Skye. Kitty runs the house while her husband spends his evenings at the local pub, reminiscing about his early life at sea. When Kitty is diagnosed with terminal cancer, they decide to take one last journey around Britain, so that they can say goodbye to each of their five children.

In Glasgow, they find their policeman son Iain fighting a losing battle against crime while his resentful wife conducts a loveless affair with one of his colleagues. The couple's two children, bored and listless, mindlessly watch television and ignore their grandparents. Iain is unable to respond to the news of his mother's illness, and hides in the bedroom when they sneak away early one morning.

In Liverpool, their daughter Fiona is forced to work secretly as a prostitute to support her unemployed husband and their two children. Trapped and desperate, she too is unable to respond properly to her mother's news.

In Peterborough, their son Roddie is well-off but lonely, desperate to have a child, but stuck with an unwilling wife who literally throws him out of bed when he seeks comfort on hearing of his mother's illness. Roddie's main concern seems to be that his branch of the family line will die out. A large dog seems to be the child-substitute in the house.

Peter and Kitty finally reach London, where daughter Deirdre, married to a wealthy stockbroker, is expecting important clients for dinner. She promptly books her parents into an expensive hotel, so that their inconvenient visit will not upset her plans. The old people, apart for much of their married life, realise that the journey has been one of rediscovery of each other, and that night, prompted by a porn film showing on the television in their room, they make love for the first time in years. Their youngest daughter, Mairi, a student living in Islington, arrives at the hotel to see them, furious that Deirdre has pushed them out, and invites them to share her tiny council flat. But Kitty, her aims achieved, is growing frailer, and she returns to Skye with Peter, where she dies peacefully.