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Many of you will know I've not had the best week. Aside from all the horrors going on in the lib dems, I've also had a bereavement and various other stresses. Yesterday, then, I needed something to act as a release valve. Cinema has always been a coping mechanism for me and I decided a good weepie would really help.

So I went to see the new British comedy/drama Song for Marion. It's not the most original script ever. You're never in any doubt about what is going to happen at any point, and the plot is somewhat thin. It's one of those films that rests upon the performances of the actors to make it worth watching.

Luckily, Song for Marion manages to pull it off, largely due to a devastating performance from Vanessa Redgrave and a stunning General Zod Terence Stamp.

Redgrave's Marion is dying of cancer. Her husband, Arthur (Stamp), has retreated into curmudgeonly grumpiness because he doesn't know how to deal with it, putting further strain on his already strained relationship with his son (Christopher Eccleston, with a somewhat hit-and-miss non-Northern accent). The thing that gives Marion joy is her weekly choir class, taught by Gemma Arterton and populated with such Brit acting luminaries as Anne Reid and Ram John "Porkpie" Holder. The choir is quirky and unconventional, naturally, and Arthur finds the songs they perform (Ace of Spades, Lets Talk About Sex), and the joy they find in subverting convention, very embarrassing.

I suspect from all of that you can all see how the plot is going to develop and what the ending will be. If you can't predict from that, watch the trailer, which is something of a Walkabout Trailer*. Like I said, not the most original script ever. That said, Redgrave and Stamp, and the way they play the relationship between them, are so good that it doesn't really matter. There are a number of scenes in the film where the camera simply lingers on Stamp's face as he reacts to something. In the hands (or rather facial muscles) of a lesser actor, this could have been disastrous. In this, it's astounding.

I cried. I cried lots. Especially when Redgrave does her solo song directly to Stamp. But I also laughed lots, and the supporting actors deserve some credit for this. Anne Reid rapping, and doing the dance moves for the various songs, is clearly having a great time. And the little girl who plays Stamp's granddaughter has that piercing honesty and comic timing that I'm sure many of us will recognise from our own children.

The direction is good, there's some nice shot-framing, and the set design is effective in evoking the type of lifestyle Marion and Arthur have. The song choices are interesting, and Stamp and Redgrave both perform reasonably well musically, although clearly neither is a natural singer.

See this film if:
  • You need a damn good cry
  • You want to see some great performances of ordinary human relationships
  • You want to see Anne Reid rap
Don't see this film if:
  • You like to be surprised by plot twists
  • You want car chases, or any kind of action

Scores: Acting: 10/10, Script: 5/10; Overall 7/10
Alternative Britcom dramas with older actors: Quartet (good, but not great) or Cockneys Vs Zombies (laugh-out-loud funny, but possibly slightly gory in places). I'd recommend the latter every time. Honor Blackman with a HUGE machine gun, people. Go watch it.

* A Walkabout Trailer is a trailer which shows most of the interesting bits of a film and thus makes it much less necessary to see the actual film. Named after the trailer for the Nick Roeg film Walkabout, which literally does spoil EVERY important point of the film. Yes, even THAT one.

About This Blog

Hello! I'm Jennie (known to many as SB, due to my handle, or The Yorksher Gob because of my old blog's name). This blog is my public face; click here for a list of all the other places you can find me on t'interwebs.

Charities I support:

The Survivors' Trust - donate here
DogsTrust - donate here
CAB - donate here


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