Starring: Terence Stamp, Vanessa Redgrave, Gemma Arterton, Christopher Eccleston
FILMWISE, old people are enjoying something of a renaissance at the moment. Song For Marion is the latest in a hugely successful batch of movies released over the past year, which goes to prove that life doesn’t just revolve around beautiful youth.
The danger, of course, is that such films can end up as embarrassing sentimental slush, or full of clichés and self-consciously condescending to oldies.
Song For Marion thankfully does not fall into this trap. Well not quite: inevitably in a film about old people, there will be allusions to (lack of) sex and someone ends up in hospital from over-exertion (in this case, learning to do a robot dance).
However, fine acting from an outstanding cast, particularly from a mesmerising Terence Stamp, prevents it being an out-and-out, sentimental tear jerker, but rather something far more heartwarming, funny and intelligent.
The story centres around grumpy old man Arthur (Stamp) whose wife Marion (Redgrave) is terminally ill. Determined to spend the short time she has left doing something she enjoys, Marion joins a choir, the OAPz. But crabby Arthur — who she wishes would join too — finds the whole thing embarrassing. He’d rather be playing dominoes down the pub or having a fag outside the rehearsal rooms while Marion’s inside singing.
When Marion dies, he retreats into himself but is somehow drawn to the choir which was so important to her. There, with the gentle help of lively choirmistress Elizabeth (Arterton) he learns to unbend, come to terms with his loss and to re-think his raison d’être.
This film is all about family love and learning to say sorry. There are some powerfully moving moments between Stamp and Redgrave as they grapple with her illness, particularly in her final days. His portrayal of a man cast adrift after her death is masterly, coupled with his attempt to heal the damaged relationship between himself and his son James (Eccleston).
Despite all this angst, the film is uplifting with many lovely moments, particularly with the OAPz (composed mostly of real-life silver singers enjoying themselves hugely) during rehearsals and, later, in a competition. Their choice of songs — Love Shack and Let’s Talk About Sex — are considered to be dumbing down against other entries that include Ode To Joy and a male voice choir’s Gwahoddiad. Do they win? The only way to find out is to go see this very watchable film.