Starts March 14
Directed by: Paul Andrew Williams
Writing credits: Paul Andrew Williams
Cast: Gemma Arterton, Vanessa Redgrave, Christopher Eccleston, Terence Stamp, Orla Hill
Length: 93 minutes
Although gravely ill, vivacious Marion (Redgrave) thrives singing with the local choir, albeit crotchety dour Arthur’s (Stamp) support is minimal. The young spirited conductor (Arterton), passionately committed to the group, enters “The OAP’Z” – Elizabeth modernizes Old Age Pensioner’s by changing the “s” to a “z” – in a regional competition, choosing unconventional songs and costumes which the group embrace. Although preoccupied with single parenthood and his business, encouragingly James (Eccleston) takes Jennifer (Hill) to hear her grandma’s choir compete. Subsequently, Marion’s doctor’s dismal “chips and ice cream” diagnosis obliges Arthur’s hands-on involvement with “The OAP’Z”; ultimately the ebullient group teach him audacity, and that nothing in life is too late, whereupon he can finally sleep deeply, dreaming of his angel.
Paul Andrew Williams coaxes subtleties from the cast with his simple story and empathetic direction. Some themes could have been flushed out more, i.e., Arthur and James’ alienation, and some situations seem contrived, i.e. Arthur’s refusal to open the door to his beloved’s friends serenading, and “The OAP’Z” unforeseen hurdle as they go into the finale. Overshadowing these shortcomings though is Stamp’s nuanced performance—the film’s catalyst—in concert with the unaffected rapport among the three principals’ performances, as well as Stamp and Redgrave’s notable solos. With high production values, lively music, and an energetic choir audiences will want to hug, the film resonates with laughter, and, tears – take lots of tissues. (Marinell H.)