Marion (Vanessa Redgrave) and Arthur (Terence Stamp) play a married couple, who love each other very much, despite being very different. She is outgoing, cheerful – and terminally ill. He is reserved, unable to show his feelings, and well…grumpy. She is a member of a choir of pensioners known as the OAPz (with a ‘z’ to make it street, as explained by the choir leader Elizabeth, played by Gemma Arterton), which Arthur adamantly refuses to get involved with. Is it too late for Arthur to change his mind and honour his wife’s wishes by becoming involved with the choir, and mend his relationship with their son James (Christopher Eccleston)? Time will tell in this sad, but ultimately uplifting film.
I saw this on a whim, and expected to quite enjoy it – but I absolutely loved it. It is by turns hilarious (the free concert in the park where the choir showcase their talents to the locals is so funny that I was crying with laughter) and heartbreaking (Stamp conveys so much feeling with just one look or one small gesture).
With a cast that includes Stamp, Redgrave and Eccleston, it will come as no surprise that the acting is truly excellent. I was not familiar with any other films featuring Gemma Arterton, so I was not sure what to expect, but she was actually lovely as the young lady who is much more able to connect with the pensioners than people her own age.
People will sometimes describe a film as unbelievably sad, but this is better than that – it is believably sad. Stamp and Eccleston are truly marvellous as the devastated husband and son of Marion. Their heartbreak manifests itself as resentment, withdrawal and anger, and you just can’t help rooting for these people to find some relief.
I cried several times throughout, but the comical scenes complemented the sad ones perfectly, and as mentioned above, despite the subject matter, the film is really very uplifting. Totally, definitely recommended.
Year of release: 2012
Director: Paul Andrew Williams
Producers: Christian Angermayer, Marc Hansell, Sean Kelly, Tara Moross, Alistair Ross, Ricky Sans, Bob Weinstein, Harvey Weinstein, Ken Marshall, Philip Moross, Christopher Billows, Rachel Dargavel, Caroline Levy, Jens Meurer, Jona Wirbeleit
Writer: Paul Andrew Williams
Main cast: Vanessa Redgrave, Terence Stamp, Christopher Eccleston, Gemma Arterton