One se­ri­ously schmaltzy num­ber

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - FILM - DON­ALD CLARKE

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

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