Of course, not all movies that focus on the lifestyles of energetic yet retired people need to be “amour.” nor should they, given that few viewers have fully recovered from the galvanizing effects of what was essentially an Oscar-nominated horror film about the ravages of age. But the problem with this big-screen style of comfort food, as tasty as it can be when served in the nonchalant style shown in “the best exotic marigold hotel” and “quartet,” is that those predictable ingredients go stale. . too fast.
Which, sadly, is usually the case with the “unfinished song” (previously known as “song for marion”), a kind of assisted living “joy” (and, perhaps, influenced by the documentary “young@ heart” as well as other UK-based fare such as “the full monty”) which refer to an amateur choir of British pensioners whose supposedly hip-and-happening repertoire is almost as out of date as their stuck-in-the-‘hairdos and wardrobe. from the 70s.
Has anyone who has been around for the last few decades not heard of a dance called a robot? Is salt-n-pepa’s “let’s talk about sex” still considered bawdy? Is it shocking for adults in their goofiness to strike heavy metal poses and flash devil horns while performing motorhead’s “ace of spades” while donning tattered wigs with hair bands? The only one who seems to think so is Gemma Arterton (“Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters”) as Elizabeth, the attractive and incessantly cheerful young music director whose inexplicable lack of dating skills leaves her with unlimited hours to devote to her flock. of silver-haired songbirds.
but, as is the case with most “cocoon” cinema, the genius usually lies in the casting choices, and it’s here that the “unfinished song” provides something to joke about, namely the couple centerpiece that poignantly dominates the story. . Whoever thought to cast Vanessa Redgrave as Marion, cursed with a terminal cancer sentence who discovers joy, solace, and companionship as a member of a community choir, should be handsomely rewarded.
Knowing her days on earth are fast ending, Marion steels herself to perform a solo. And if there is a more emotionally gratifying scene in a movie this year than a radiant 76-year-old grave red, knit cap on shaven head and glowing eyes, shedding her entire being in Cyndi Lauper’s “true colors,” it would be hard to believe. the wise will have handkerchiefs ready.
that marion is devoting her efforts to arthur, her unpleasantly gruff husband who mocks her involvement in the group and fears her health will worsen, therefore taking her away from him faster, makes her performance all the more poignant .
Somehow, Terence Stamp: His once cruel but beautiful face, so haunting in the 1967 classic “Far From the Madding Crowd,” has become gaunt, wrinkled, and sunken, while his granite-blue eyes remain as fatally penetrating as always at 74: it matches, if not exceeds, the contributions of redgrave like arthur. too bad director/writer paul andrew williams seems oddly determined to compromise the dignity of his on-screen character with needless babble before fully committing to joining the choir and taking his late wife’s place in a regional contest .
but as anyone who’s seen stamp hold the screen hostage in “the limey” or take command as the original (and better) general zod in the 80’s “superman 2” knows, this is an actor who never leaves anything but a lasting memory. Print. Playing a man whose insecurity, sadness, and pain threaten to turn him into an angry loner left adrift by the loss of his one true love, who is too often forced to be a supporting villain, Stamp manages. to overcome the weaknesses of the script at all times. turn. Few could turn the act of simply staring into space while smoking a hand-rolled cigarette into an eloquent portrait of silent struggle.
Meanwhile, a quietly moving performance from Chris Eccleston as the couple’s estranged son, saddled with one of those precocious daughters that only exist on film, suffers from a lack of backstory to fully explain the ensuing fury. he harbors against his father.
but at least the audience that hangs in there will be rewarded with a concert of arthur performing a serious but moving version of billy joel’s “lullabye (goodnight, my angel)”. it is one of the rare cases where the “unfinished song” reaches a heavenly state.