|London Film Festival Review: Song for Marion|
|Written by Ivan Radford|
|Friday, 19 October 2012 15:25|
Director: Paul Andrew Williams
Song for Marion premieres at the Odeon West End tonight, but if you’re planning to see it, you better hope that they fix the air conditioning in time: it rained on my face during the movie. Several times.
Frank (Stamp) is a grumpy old git. He doesn’t smile. He doesn’t sing. He doesn’t laugh. He doesn’t even like taking his wife, Marion (Redgrave), to singing practise. It’s hard to see why: happy doing everything from hip-hop and the Love Shack to AC/DC, The OAPz are a toe-tapping bunch of pensioners. Some of them can even dance the robot – intentionally.
But everything hits a bum note when Marion is told she's dying of cancer. She puts on a brave face. He scowls even more. His son (a curiously-accented Christopher Ecclestone) stops talking to him. Can Marion continue singing? Will Frank change his tune? Do The OAPz actually stand a chance of winning the upcoming choir contest?
There are no prizes for guessing how it all turns out. It’s basically Sister Act, but with old white people instead of Whoopi Goldberg. But while Paul Andrew Williams’ drama may be a spreadsheet titled Feel-Good Drama that ticks all the necessary boxes, it’s also the most moving spreadsheet you’ve ever seen.
Jumping from The Cottage to this, Williams handles the tonal shift impeccably, doing all the right things – cameras lingering in hallways, hushed confrontations in kitchens. And the cast are great. Stamp glowers like a man possessed, Gemma Arterton is adorable as the enthusiastic choir leader and Redgrave's wide-eyed optimism is heart-wrenching. One beautiful scene where she sings True Colours will leave you crying buckets - but that's just the warm-up act for the rousing finale. The words "Come on, granddad!" have never sounded so adorable.
Sister Act 3: Back in the Nursing Home. And in no way is that a bad thing.