One seriously schmaltzy number
PG cert, general release, superannuated good sports.
Like Dustin Hoffman’s recent Quartet, Songs for Marion, rather than seeming “empowering”, often comes across as patronising to its older characters. Look how quaint the aged darlings are! Aren’t they both crack and gas?
If you have sharp antennae for this sub-genre, you will already have an image in your mind of the incorrigible oldies waving their bottoms to Let’s Talk About Sex. The reality is considerably more gruesome than you might imagine. But it’s the sequence during which – oh, you naughty old people! – they bark along to Motörhead’s Ace of Spades that really sets the toes curling. Might I delicately point out that Lemmy is now 67 years old? This is music by pensioners for pensioners. The joke doesn’t work anymore.
Okay, having got that off our chests, we should acknowledge that there is a decent, if sentimental, drama at the heart of Paul Andrew Williams’s picture. Stamp is moving as a cigarette-shrouded grump who can’t quite face up to the looming death of his seriously ill wife. Redgrave puts in a flawless performance as the unfortunate woman. It might be overstretching it to mention Emmanuelle Riva’s turn in Amour, but, like that actor, Redgrave never lets us forget that she is in pain and facing oblivion.
Stamp is angry that she persists with Gemma Arterton’s competitive choir. She urges him to join in. He resists. She urges some more. We all know where we’re headed.
Williams has had a weird career. Plaudits for London to Brighton led to brickbats for Cherry Tree Lane and The Cottage. The interactions between Redgrave and Stamp confirm he has serious dramatic chops. The swerve towards cuddly redemption porn suggests he’s starting to panic a little.
Oh, lighten up: Vanessa Redgrave and Terence Stamp Directed by Paul Andrew Williams. Starring Terence Stamp, Gemma Arterton, Christopher Eccleston, Vanessa Redgrave, Anne Reid, Orla Hill