UK (2012). Dir: Paul Andrew Williams, Scr: Paul Andrew Williams
The main reason I went to see this is because I know someone called Marion. Sentimental, I know. It’s like the logic behind my mother’s annual gamble on the horses – there’s a reference to a distant Scottish relative in the name of a horse at 100/1. My mother never wins. So it was with this film. Don’t get taken in by any comparisons with Young@Heart, a moving, inspired and inspiring documentary. This one has no energy, no characters, a predictable story, an uncomfortably feeble end and it wont make you laugh when you’re supposed to. It’s the story of a misanthropic old man, Arthur played by Terence Stamp, whose dying wife, Marion, chooses to spend much of what time is left singing with a local choir of pensioners (The OAPz), led by the bubbly Elizabeth, played by Gemma Arterton. Arthur doesn’t express feeling well, but hates the choir, unable to understand why Marion is wasting her time. Why does Marion find it fun? You’ve guessed it, Elizabeth gets them to sing cool, modern songs. The problem with that key joke – they sing The Ace Of Spades by Motorhead and Salt’n’Pepa’s Let’s Talk About Sex – is that it is too obvious to be funny and the songs sound silly when translated to 15-strong local choir of no obvious singing talent-with-piano. They really don’t sound much better the second time with long-haired kid on guitar and someone banging on the drums, by which time the joke really has worn thin. In the aftermath of Marion’s death, a scene directed movingly, the story develops to the mandatory singing competition entirely as expected.
I can’t fault the actors, especially Vanessa Redgrave as Marion, for trying hard to bring something to the film, but their material is so very thin. Terence Stamp broods well, helped by his extraordinary eyes, but he is never convincing as the ordinary working-class bloke. He, too, seemed to be wishing he was in a theatre, where he could do some proper acting. And, call me old-fashioned, but I was struck at how little musicality there is in any of the singing.
PS The other reason I went to see this is because it’s by Paul Andrew Williams, director of the tense, pacy and atmospheric London to Brighton. He’ll be fine with his next film.
Also by Paul Andrew Williams:
London to Brighton (2006)