Category Archives: Reviews

Top Ten of 2013

Frances-Ha-film-still-31. Frances Ha (dir. Noah Baumbach, 2013, US) – A sensitive look at the ever-increasing pangs of quarter-life crises. An immaculate twinning of star Greta Gerwig and director Noah Baumbach, who each line the precipices of contemporary cinematic visions of stilted adulthood and angst. A beautiful monochrome love letter to New York City by way of the French New Wave, Woody Allen style. A perfect film that spoke to me in innumerable ways.

Breaking-Bad_32. Breaking Bad – Season Five, part 2 (x8) (Cr. Vince Gilligan, 2013, AMC, US) – Completing both a perfect season of television and arguably one of the finest TV dramas ever created, these 8 episodes were a sensational concoction of the show’s finest ingredients, blended together to produce a thudding, devastating curtain close for television’s finest anti-hero: Walter White, whose journey from Mr. Chips to Scarface reaches its poetic conclusion.

Standout episode: Ozymandias (s05xe14, dir. Rian Johnson): Perhaps one of the most heartbreaking, shocking and unrestrainedly shattering episodes of television ever made. Johnson extends the show’s cinematic roots and delivers something that is at once a turning point for every character involved and a treatise on the slow-ebbing consequences of deceit.

28-before-midnight3. Before Midnight (dir. Richard Linklater, 2013, US) – One of the many jewels in the series’ crown is the searing, incredibly attuned and humanistic writing and delineation of its characters, and Midnight upholds this and remains as true to its own canon as it is to the reality it so believably upholds. Yet, where the opening two chapters were entrenched in illusory romanticism (especially Sunset), the tone here is faintly darker as the simmering themes and various contexts of Jesse and Celine’s conversations take on restless, even drastic edges. Mature topics such as sex, parenthood and careers are explored, as are the permutations that lay, gestating, in between. (Reviewed for The Hollywood News)

12-years14. 12 Years a Slave (dir. Steve McQueen, 2013, US) – Subjecting the art gloss of previous films Hunger and Shame to a more formal model, McQueen’s latest is a towering achievement; an unremitting and equally gut-wrenching combined vision of survival and the hideousness of an evil that continues to stagnate in America’s past.

3NO9_StarredUp5. Starred Up (dir. David Mackenzie, 2013, UK) – A murky concoction of Alan Clarke-esque grit and Shane Meadows’ stark realism, Mackenzie’s latest is a pinned-backed and rough-edged prison drama that takes an unflinching look at institutionalisation, paternity, the unwritten hierarchies of prison and how destructive lifestyles could be seen as strikingly hereditary. With a vérité, fly on the wall approach and superb naturalistic performances (especially from Jack O’Connell and Ben Mendelsohn, playing father and son), this may be the stand-out British film of 2014 when it’s released in March.

leaves-upstream-color-reelgood6. Upstream Colour (dir. Shane Carruth, 2013, US) – Just as his first project, Primer, saw Carruth shunning established filmic principles in his approach to implementing the science fiction genre, his latest is more of an innate symphony of ostracism sung from a deeply idiosyncratic voice; an ambitious, inventive and hypnotically contemplative entity wholly beyond compare. It is within a lack of empathy for, and simultaneous defiance of, narrative codes and genre conventions that make this one of the most challenging and markedly unclassifiable films to emanate from American independent cinema in quite some time. (Reviewed for The Hollywood News)

blue-jasmine-cate-blanchett17. Blue Jasmine (dir. Woody Allen, 2013, US) – However patchy his 21st century offerings have been, Allen’s tenacious film-a-year approach has paid dividends in numerously rewarding and productive ways, though its arguable that none have been as achingly, bitterly human, or indeed contemporary, as this. Through the prism of a Tennessee Williams-style outline, Blue Jasmine is another notch on a long list of strong female-led films for the seasoned filmmaker, one that – instead of merely adopting caricatures – retools them to mount a portrait of self-indulgence, privilege and deceit gone crushingly sour. It’s a weighty and progressively devastating drama with a chilly conclusion; an ending where the lyrics of the film’s title track, Blue Moon, ring wholly, hauntingly true for all involved. (Reviewed for The Hollywood News)

don_apartment38. Mad Men – Season Six (x13) (Cr. Matthew Weiner, 2013, AMC, US) – Essentially answering the question posed to central character Don Draper at the close of season 5 (“Are you alone?”), this sixth season makes atonal lurches from one unexpected plot curve to the next as it burrows further into Don’s shadowy cerebral cortex. A murkier tone – mirroring the tumultuousness of 1968 America – may make this one of the show’s weaker seasons, but a tepid season of Mad Men is still one of the best shows on television, and this makes for a memorably hectic prelude to season seven’s two-tiered series finisher.

Standout episode: The Better Half (s06xe09, dir. Phil Abraham): An unlikely tryst between Don and ex-wife Betty, sharing screen time for the first time since season 4, further sheds light on Don’s doomed approach to companionship, devotion and fidelity.

Spring-Breakers-promo06-780x5209. Spring Breakers (dir. Harmony Korine, 2012, US) – Embracing the mainstream whilst simultaneously challenging its codes, Korine’s latest is his most fully realised and accessible film to date; a provocative study of chaos that refuses to sugarcoat the ugliness of what it both admires and reproaches. This could so easily have become what it has been advertised as: a cheap and tawdry perusal through its subject matter, using bikini-clad protagonists as exemplars of the accoutrements of present-day youth. Yet it isn’t merely a straightforward depiction of Girls Gone Wild-inspired carnage; quite the contrary in fact. It digs deep into the psyche and inner-workings of the central friendship, the allure of bad behaviour and self-destructiveness, and how the choices these girls make – and the impact of Britney Spears – reverberates and has repercussions.(Reviewed for Take One)

gimme-the-loot-gimme-the-loot-02-01-2013-4-g10. Gimme the Loot (dir. Adam Leon, 2012, US) – The feature debut of resident New Yorker Leon, this is an authentic and charming story of desperation and the desire to leave ones mark in a modern city that doesn’t particularly care for the protagonist’s outwardly diminutive voices. (Reviewed for CineVue)

Honourable mentions:

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Blackfish (dir. Gabriela Cowperthwaite, 2013, US) – Searing and emotionally exhausting, what Cowperthwaite’s documentary lacks in analytical edges it more than makes up for in the sheer weight and comprehension of its central thesis: the destructive ignorance of SeaWorld and animal captivity.

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Girls – Season Two (x10) (cr. Lena Dunham, 2013, HBO, US) – Small screen auteur Lena Dunham’s excellent, ultra-hip series gets darker and more mature as it goes on, growing into an already well established groove whilst – unlike its protagonists – developing its sense of self.

Standout episode: It’s Back (s02xe08, dir. Jesse Peretz): A superb rug-puller that exemplifies Dunham’s prowess as an actress, storyteller and sculptor of authentic characters with authentic problems.

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Southcliffe (x4) (dir. Sean Durkin, 2013, UK) – Another harrowing offering from Durkin, who transcends and repackages his cinematic presence into this startlingly effective British miniseries, which focuses on a town’s devastation brought on by a spate of shootings. A staggering portrait of manifested frustration and grief, stuffed with excellent performances.

Standout episode: Sorrow’s Child (e03, dir. Sean Durkin). Actor Anatol Yusef effectively plumbs the depth of his character, Paul’s, anguish, building to rousing, hair-raising final moments soundtracked by Otis Redding.

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Museum Hours (dir. Jem Cohen, 2012, Austria) – A lucid, dreamy dissertation on the simultaneous intimacy and implacability of life, death and the art of simply looking.

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After Lucia (dir. Michel Franco, 2012, Mexico) – Released straight to DVD here in the UK, this is a gruelling portrait of bullying and the evils of youth that deserves a wider audience, if not for the relentless torment of its protagonist then for the spectacular performance from the actress who plays her, Tessa Ia. (featured on Best of 2012 list)

(A list dedicated solely to 2013 UK releases can be found on HeyUGuys’ Movie Bloggers poll)

Review: Blue Jasmine

blue-jasmine-cate-blanchett1(dir. Woody Allen, 2013)
(Originally posted at The Hollywood News)

Nestled amongst a seemingly unending European sojourn (his previous took place in Rome, his next 1930s France), Blue Jasmine is Woody Allen’s return to the states since 2009’s shabby Whatever Works and provides the foundation for his most biting, raw and germane film in quite some time. However patchy his 21st century offerings have been, Allen’s tenacious film-a-year approach has paid dividends in numerously rewarding and productive ways, though its arguable that none have been as achingly, bitterly human, or indeed contemporary, as this. What starts as a typically breezy jaunt through feminine angst – accompanied by the usual stereotypically mapped place-setting and neuroses inflected humour, descends into tragedy as quickly as the film’s protagonist waxes boastingly lyrical about her once dexterous life to anyone unfortunate enough to gain her attention.

Blue Jasmine opens with Jasmine (Cate Blanchett, on toxically rousing form), a financially destitute ex-socialite, aboard a flight from New York to San Francisco to seek refuge from the ruinations of her past life. She’s the forty-something widow of a Bernie Madoff-esque businessman-cum-exploiter (Alec Baldwin) who, unbeknownst to his blissfully unaware spouse, fuelled their luxuriously moneyed lifestyle through shady deals and stolen equity. In the wake of her climactic fall from grace – and her husband’s jail-set suicide, Jasmine (refashioned from Jeanette, which “had no panache”) turns to adopted sister Ginger (Sally Hawkins) for both a reprieve from the past and an incentive for a new, frantically cobbled together future.

In a steadfast bid for substantiality, Jasmine attempts to rise above what she sees as the menial ineptitude of Ginger’s blue collar existence by deciding to embark on either a career in interior design or resume her education in anthropology, a scholarly background she quickly dropped for a man who promised her bountiful wealth and status amongst New York’s upper crust. Looking to maintain that her stay in San Francisco – already a step-down from her dwellings in Brooklyn – will be as temporary as possible, Jasmine assumes a position of weary advice-giver to Ginger by schooling her in the dos and dont’s of her relationship with greaseball Chili (Bobby Cannavale) whilst simultaneously becoming the object of affection for a lecherous dentist (Michael Stuhlbarg) and a budding congressman, played by Peter Sarsgaard. She also learns that a life of haughty entitlement overshadowed by a murky history ensures that her desire for a second bout of upward mobility is as bottomless as the glass of vodka constantly by her side.

Through sustained flashbacks we see the lofty highs and eventual lows of Jasmine’s marriage to Hal, where cracks were blanketed by her blissfully unaware, somewhat conscious ignorance and a complicity she surmises as herself being a witless bystander in a world she was ill-equipped to navigate, only enjoy. Although the segueing between present and past becomes slightly jarring on an assemblage front, its use as a method to show how the reverberations from one have a lasting, damning effect on the other allows the layers of Jasmine’s cracked and sadly conflicted personality to gestate. It also establishes the dichotomous relationship between Jasmine and Ginger, which is expertly investigated (and written) in the current tense as the characters continue to share vastly dissimilar outlooks on, and expectations from, life and the men who weave in and out.

In a powerhouse, awards-worthy performance, Blanchett excels as the delusional and mentally unstable pill popper, who arrives in San Francisco a washed-up relic of a pre-recession America with a vicelike grip on the material remnants of a bourgeois regime and a tendency to speak to herself (a narrative device Blanchett is fully capable of making appear organic). Once again charting the boundaries between comedy and tragedy, this is the most consistently together Allen has been for a while; his script is dense and ponderous as it tackles relatable and modern issues, something quite alien to his cinema of late. Through the prism of a Tennessee Williams-style outline, Blue Jasmine is another notch on a long list of strong female-led films for the seasoned filmmaker, one that – instead of merely adopting caricatures – retools them to mount a portrait of self-indulgence, privilege and deceit gone crushingly sour. It’s a weighty and progressively devastating drama with a chilly conclusion; an ending where the lyrics of the film’s title track, Blue Moon, ring wholly, hauntingly true for all involved.

Review: Love Is All You Need

love_is_all_you_need_20000147_st_7_s-high(Susanne Bier, 2012)

Collaborating for the fifth time with writer Anders Thomas Jensen – following Open Hearts (2002), Brothers (2004), After the Wedding (2007) and the Academy Award winning In a Better World (2010), Danish director Susanne Bier returns to cinematic consciousness with Love Is All You Need (2012), perhaps her most broadly mainstream film yet. Set both in her native Denmark and the sun-kissed shores of the southern coast of Italy, Bier’s latest is a frothy mixture of romantic comedy and familial unrest as she surveys the looming nuptials of a young couple whose respective parents are reaching something of a crossroads in their vastly dissimilar lives.

 The remarkable Trine Dyrholm plays Ida, a Danish hairdresser who, whilst recuperating from chemotherapy and waiting for the results of her final oncological tests, discovers her slobbish husband Leife (Kim Bodnia) is cheating on her with a younger woman. Meanwhile Philip (played by Pierce Brosnan), an Englishman living in Denmark, is a lonely, middle-aged widower and estranged single father whose contentment in a life of moneyed solitude has rendered him consistently uninterested in forming lasting relationships.

 Events conspire to entwine these two increasingly lost souls as they embark on their journey for Italy to attend the wedding of Ida’s daughter Astrid and Philip’s son Patrick, young lovers whose path to matrimony has a few obstacles in store.

 Marking a notable change in tone in comparison to her previous hard-hitting dramas, Bier’s Love Is All You Need is a grounded but somewhat slight and uninspired perusal through several romantic comedy clichés, suffering from a narrative that owes a considerable debt to films such as Mamma Mia! (2008) and Laws of Attraction (2004), both of which also star Brosnan. In a rather sloppy appropriation of the genre, Jensen’s screenplay spends too much time establishing the characters and their respective settings that he forgets to actually imbue them with any particularly memorable flavours, entrenched as they are in well-worn tropes and characteristics. The relationships shared between the various lovers, friends and family feel shallow and underdeveloped, making early sequences – and many pivotal later ones – appear weightless and underdone, giving the illusion of believability despite a distinct lack of properly drawn histories and emotions. This is notable through Brosnan’s character, whose alienated relationship with his progressively confounded son isn’t given the time to breath or develop.

 Sumptuously captured by cinematographer Morten Søborg, the film moves along at a brisk pace and slowly becomes more engrossing once it decides that the budding relationship shared between Dyrholm and Brosnan is its most significant overarching plot, but the beautiful, sun-dappled scenery barely masks a threadbare story that wears its predictabilities on its sleeves. If warmth is all you need for a comfortable romantic comedy, then Love Is All You Need provides the requisite fodder, just don’t expect anything particularly affecting from a filmmaker trying to meet Dogme-inflected panache with a more conventional model.

Review: Elysium

Elysium5(dir. Neill Blomkamp, 2013)

(Originally posted at The Hollywood News)

After taking both critics and the box office by storm with his steaming debut District 9 – a film whose heavy socio-political themes were evened out by a refreshing sense of style and humour, director Neill Blomkamp makes a welcome return with sophomore project Elysium, a worthy if not wholly effective follow up. Similar to D9, which, for the most part, managed to blend the tropes of the alien-invasion movie with contemporary and socially relevant commentary concerning apartheid, Blomkamp infuses his latest with a similar amount of allegorical rumination, only this time it’s bolstered by both a significantly larger budget and a more polemical stance on class regimentation.

 

 Elysium sees Blomkamp returning to the realm of science fiction to depict another tale of the disquiet between two distinct, and distinctly realised, societal worlds. In the year 2154, the planet is divided into two disparate constructs: an overpopulated, ruined Earth rife with squalor and moral decay, and the eponymous Elysium, a pristine man-made space station for the extremely wealthy looming above amongst the stars, its circular profile resembling a judging, restricted eye. As earth continues its slow descent into near total destruction fuelled by disorder, crime and poverty, its suffering inhabitants continually intend to seek refuge on its adjacent locale, which boasts an oasis of affluence and homes equipped with machines that have the ability to seamlessly cure every known disease and ailment.

Looking to bridge the gap between the two and bring equality to these worlds is Max (Matt Damon), a blue-collar worker who’s been saving all his life to finally move to Elysium. When events conspire to put Max on a steady road to his demise, he reluctantly takes on a dangerous mission that pits him against Elysium’s Secretary Delacourt (a prickly Jodie Foster) and her uncompromising determination to maintain the unspoilt nature of her beloved constructed planet. Battling insurmountable odds, Max finds that if he’s successful, he could bring about the protection of millions of people on Earth, as well as save his own life and the life of his childhood love and her terminally ill daughter.

Starting out in a similar fashion to District 9 and the way it introduced a serious premise lined by social commentary before immediately delving into the character’s quests to break artificial boundaries, Elysium makes good on the substance and inventiveness Blomkamp laid foundations for first time round. The larger scale allows him to flex his predilection for visual innovation; his perception of a dusty, future Earth drowning in squalor is believable, as is the ultra-sleek planes of Elysium, however nondescript it seems to be (the inhabitants are rarely seen, the identical houses seem constantly empty). Yet the film suffers from the director’s continuous trajectory and drive for exploring his various ambitions; the plot conceit is engaging and thought-provoking yet the themes regarding greed, corruption and a lopsided society become dormant once the narrative’s momentum picks up, a narrative that quickly becomes overcome with energetic, albeit generic, action.

The film appears imbalanced and rife with plot holes, which is strange for a filmmaker with such a precise way of constructing unfamiliar and extraordinary scenarios and environments. Yet it is boosted by an infectious imagination and first-rate casting, from Damon’s well-judged protagonist to Foster’s severe Delacourt, via D9 alumni Sharlto Copley’s vicious gun-for-hire operative Kruger, a startling alternative to the notable yet submissive Wikus Van De Merwe. As a director who strives to tell tales of grand sociological concepts that don’t seem heavy-handed, Blomkamp mostly succeeds however broad his brushstrokes tend to be, yet with Elysium he fashions an allegory that is exciting at first but ultimately says very little.

 

DVD Review: Welcome To the Punch

Welcome-To-The-Punch-02(dir. Eran Creevy, 2013)

(Originally posted at CineVue)

After helming the ultra low budget and critically praised urban thriller Shifty (2008), BAFTA nominated director Eran Creevy returns with Welcome To the Punch (2013), an explosive action film that sees Creevy depicting London in altogether more sleek and slick parameters than his directorial predecessor. Armed with a bigger budget and the clout of executive producer Ridley Scott, Welcome To the Punch stems from, and indeed owes a debt to, a particularly stylised brand of American action cinema governed by the likes of Michael Mann and Tony Scott, though its bracing and serviceable energy fails to mask a decidedly limp and uninvolving plot.

The film opens with James McAvoy’s  police detective Max Lewinsky desperately pursuing successful career criminal Jacob Sternwood (Mark Strong) mid-heist across London, a chase that culminates in Max getting shot in the leg. Cut to three years later and Max is haunted by his previous inability to catch Sternwood whilst harbouring a deep obsession with finally tracking him down. Meanwhile, Sternwood – hiding out in a secluded Icelandic cottage – is forced to return to London when his son is fatally wounded in a heist gone wrong.

Padding out the monotony of everyday detective work at the side of Sarah (Andrea Riseborough), Max sees the opportunity to catch and bring to justice his arch nemesis, the phantom whose been looming large over his inability to move on. As events conspire to pit the two adversaries against each other, they begin to uncover a deep conspiracy that both will need to solve together in order to survive.

Shot through the lens of cinematographer Ed Wild, who bathes London in a glossy, steely and foreboding sheen (especially in the numerous sequences set at night, the lights of tower blocks flooding the screen with light), Welcome To the Punch is a good looking and perfectly accessible British crime thriller that is unfortunately lumbered with an unexciting narrative. Though McAvoy, Strong and Riseborough – as well as an impressive cast rounded out by Peter Mullan and David Morrissey – are excellent in their variously complexly rendered roles, the film is rarely as thrilling or particularly engaging as the central cat-and-mouse angle would suggest.

As a cops and robbers tale painted on the glacial canvas that is London, Creevy has an adroit and impressively snappy way of mapping his characters against such an effective backdrop, yet his screenplay fails at making such ingredients successfully coalesce. In an interview that can be found on the disc, Creevy alludes to a wealth of material regarding Strong’s underwritten character and the story as a whole that was cut out in pre-production, material that would have made the finished product ultimately more distinctive and punchy.

Review: Renoir

RENOIR - FILM REVIEW(Gilles Bourdos, 2012)

(Originally posted at The Hollywood News)

Cinema has something of a challenged relationship with the way filmmaker’s use the machinery of the biopic subgenre to explore the lives and works of established, renowned artists. Where films such as Séraphine (2008) and Frida (2002) – which chart the lives of Séraphine de Senlis and Frida Kahlo respectively – took on intimate biographical angles, expressing these historical figures as embodiments of their work, others become mired by the simple way of expecting audiences to approach them with already highly attuned awareness. The same can be said for Gilles Bourdos’ latest, Renoir (2012), a mostly static peek into elderly painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s latter-stage career and, simultaneously, his son Jean’s burgeoning occupation as a filmmaker, bewitched as they both were by the presence of a flame-haired muse.

Christa Theret plays Andrée Heuschling, a teenager who, upon arrival at the house of Pierre-Auguste in the summer of 1915, quickly becomes a source of inspiration for the ageing painter, who is becoming increasingly crippled by arthritis. Although falling prey to the physical challenges of old age, Pierre-Auguste is rejuvenated and captivated by Andrée, and becomes motivated to resume painting his famous nude portraits when she volunteers to become his life model.

As Andrée establishes an idyll at the Cote d’Azur setting, the realities of the First World War swiftly begin to impose, as Pierre-Auguste’s son Jean – an officer in the French army – returns to convalesce after being wounded in battle. Whilst assisting his father, Jean becomes infatuated by Andrée, who reinvigorates his weary attitude to the war as he begins to form a budding interest in motion pictures.

Although Bourdos competently mimics Pierre-Auguste’s ravishing artistry, ensuring each frame is filled with thoughtful and appealing visual construction, his film is a staid and rather lifeless perusal through two iconic French artists, one that chooses not to explore its subjects and their chequered relationship in any particular depth. The depiction of the film’s senior hero is a taken as read interpretation that neither challenges or alters the already recognised facts (his brilliance; his arthritis; his polygamous living conditions), instead drawing little conclusions about how and why he channels his inspiration into his art. Similarly with Jean – who went on to helm such paradigmatic French films as La Grande Illusion (1937) and La Regle du Jeu (1939) – Bourdos’ screenplay does little to fully make understandable the foundations of his burgeoning career shift, delving into a vague and simplistic story of how his love for Andrée captures his imagination.

 Conservatively directed with an unquestioning approach, Renoir is vigilant and beautifully placid rumination that attempts to deify two emblems of French artistic history but rarely focuses on either.

Review: Song For Marion

Screen shot 2013-06-27 at 15.39.21(Dir. Paul Andrew Williams, 2012)

(Originally posted at CineVue)

Cashing in on the current craze for ‘Grey pound’-targeted filmmaking – heralded by the success of The King’s Speech (2010) and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2011) – Song For Marion (2012) arrives boasting a robust cast and a supposedly heart-warming story about the celebration of life and the joys of spontaneity. Directed by Paul Andrew Williams, who here veers away from the darker, moodier qualities of previous films such as London to Brighton (2006), the film is an admirable attempt at bringing insight into the simultaneously tranquil and devastating effects of old age, but it unfortunately becomes congested by overt sentimentality.

The remarkable Vanessa Redgrave stars as the titular Marion, a vivacious, spunky older woman whose terminal cancer doesn’t stop her from attending and remaining a treasured member of her local choir, who – under the guidance of Elizabeth (Gemma Arterton) – go by the name ‘The O.A.P’z’. Marion’s husband Arthur (Terrence Stamp) is a curmudgeonly and irritable man plagued by the prospect of inevitably losing his beloved wife, on whom he dotes incessantly.

Though Arthur continues to discourage Marion from her singing and remains imprisoned by his own inability for self-expression (not to mention an ailing memory), events conspire to put him on a road to redemption as he challenges himself to find his voice, make amends with his estranged son (played by Christopher Eccleston) and learn to truly live in the moment.

Despite momentary flashes of perception, where Redgrave and Stamp – who share an effortless chemistry – fully exemplify a couple both battling an overwhelming evil and living constantly on the verge of separation, Song For Marion is a limply assembled and hectic perusal through the trials and tribulations of old age. Where a simple depiction of Marion and Arthur’s dwindling time together would have built upon the various intimacies already on show here, Williams’ screenplay overstuffs the narrative. Is it a story about a marriage beset by disease, or the tale of a man unthawing and reaching out to humanity at a time of sorrow? The film isn’t really sure, and ends up being an amiable concoction stifled by shameless tear jerking (see a sequence where Marion gingerly sings Cyndi Lauper’s ‘True Colours’).

Instead of serving as a backdrop to the overarching story, the subplot concerning the choir distracts and waylays the film, particularly in its generically plotted third act that shares far too many similarities with Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit (1993). The tenderness of the first half of the film gives way to the trivial hypothesis that reckons having old people rapping, doing the robot and singing Salt-N-Pepa’s ‘Let’s Talk About Sex’ equates to endearing humour. Much like Dustin Hoffman’s Quartet (2012), to which this is comparable, Williams feels the need to capture old timers swearing and being generally childish, sitting awkwardly within a film that ultimately is about growing old gracefully.