Imelda Staunton dances past heartbreak of affair
For a film as ostensibly bouncy as “Finding Your Feet,” there’s an awful lot of death in it.
That’s no bad thing. As Richard Loncraine’s goodnatured golden-years comedy zips through zero weddings and a couple of funerals, the light pressure of mortality on proceedings gives an otherwise silly, sentimental affair a glancing connection with real life and its limits: It’s the kind of feel-good cinema that at least pays lip service to other feelings.
Starring Imelda Staunton as a wronged society wife forced to drop her airs and gain some oxygen when she moves in with her freewheeling boho sister (a sparkling Celia Imrie), “Feet” rests pleasantly enough on its mild Sunday-lunch charms and the unstrained gifts of a tony ensemble.
It’s not every day that Timothy Spall gets to flex his muscles as a romantic lead. From the second his character Charlie, a cheery MPAA rating: PG-13 (for suggestive material, brief drug use, and brief strong language) Running time: 1:49 Opens: Friday Cockney furniture restorer, brushes shoulders with haughty social climber Lady Sandra Abbott (Staunton), we know the thick, mustardy layer of instant antagonism between them isn’t long for this world: “Finding Your Feet” hits its romanticcomedy beats with clockwork efficiency.
Not that Sandra is easily brought out of the funk that followed her discovery of a yearslong affair between her husband, Mike (John Sessions), and one of her best friends.
Unable to face the social humiliation in her moneyed countryside community, she turns up at the shabby north London apartment of her estranged older sister Elizabeth, with the intention of drinking herself into a stupor.
Elizabeth, a never-married misfit with a wide array of oddball friends and liberal causes, instead prescribes senior-citizens dancing classes, where Sandra and Charlie find more than just a good waltzing rhythm together.
It’s thanks more to Staunton’s vulnerability as a performer than to the over-tidy reversals of Nick Moorcroft and Meg Leonard’s script that Sandra thaws as sympathetically as she does, since she’s a pretty bitter pill to be around for the first act.
But “Finding Your Feet” has little time for staying put, or set in one’s ways: It’s a story that shows time to be of the essence in multiple ways, as its characters, all with their own hidden pockets of tragedy, frankly set about ensuring they don’t die angry, lonely or without ever having participated in a dance flashmob in Piccadilly Circus.
The rewards in “Finding Your Feet” are ones of sprightly human chemistry rather than great narrative discovery, of all-round good humor rather than outright hilarity.