A familiar yet effective melody
Paul Andrew Williams (United Kingdom, Gala Presentations)
Saturday, September 15, 6:00 p.m.
Visa Screening Room (Elgin) (189 Yonge Street)
Saturday, September 15, 8:00 p.m.
Roy Thomson Hall (60 Simcoe Street)
You have to hand it to the Brits: they have got the heart-warming charmer down to a veritable formula. In the vein of Waking Ned Devine and Calendar Girls, here we have another crowd-pleaser with all of the key ingredients in place—the only difference being that this one is a little heavier and more morbid.
Arthur (Terrence Stamp) is an obstinate man who spends his days caring for his wife Marion (Vanessa Redgrave), a recovering cancer survivor. She sings in a local seniors choir that will look familiar to anyone who has seen the superior documentary Young At Heart. The group is led by a comely schoolteacher (Gemma Arterton) intent on entering the colorful bunch into a competition by having them perform fun and unexpected numbers such as “Love Shack” and “Let’s Talk About Sex.” When Marion finally succumbs to the disease, Arthur is at a loss how to spend his time now that he has alienated his son (Christopher Eccleston), and reluctantly agrees to join the choir.
The beats are all fairly familiar and the screenplay’s shameless manipulations are evident enough, but it all works in a way that good formulas often do when employed correctly. Stamp turns in another nice late-career performance that makes effective use of his taciturn demeanor and stoic face, while Arterton brings some zeal to an otherwise underwritten role. It may not be re-inventing the wheel, but if it ain’t broke…