Saturday, July 13, 2013

An Unfinished Song

Around these parts, Terence Stamp is best known for uttering the immortal words "Kneel before Zod!" Indeed, wherever he turns up, whether it be The Devil his ownself (Company of Wolves) or a murderous alien businessman (Alien Nation), he seems to be, well, a less-than-chipper fellow.

So seeing him as a crusty old septuagenarian who snarles at his dying wife (noted communist Vanessa Redgrave) is a natural. As this is a story of redemption, by far the most alarming thing is seeing Mr. Stamp actually smile. I'm pretty sure I've never seen him do that in an unironic fashion.

I guess I wasn't supposed to like this film, written and directed by Paul Andrew Williams (The Cottage), with its sentimentality and testimony to the power of love, but I did. (Just as I loved the documentary that was the clear inspiration for it.)

At one point, Arthur (Stamp) says to Marion (Redgrave), "You know how I feel about enjoying things."

And it's clear she does. And always has. And it's equally clear that he is similarly devoted, even if he's limited in expression to grumpiness.

His son (Christopher Eccleston, of the first season Dr. Who reboot) is less understanding, understandably and has picked up some of dad's grumpiness. I liked this part of the story as well, as Arthur is split between wanting to have a relationship with his son (and adoring his granddaughter) and thinking maybe they're better off—maybe the world is better off—if he just keeps to himself.

A less likely relationship is that of Arthur with the young choir teacher (Gemma Atherton, Pirate Radio, Clash of the Titans, Prince of Persia, Hansel and Gretel), who has some of Marion's ability to see past Arthur's bitter introvertedness. Unlikely, perhaps, but necessary to the story.

The Boy and I liked it. The Flower demurred on the basis of "old people singing," but she would've liked it. The music is considerably more sentimental than "Young @ Heart" which featured hard rock almost exclusively, but largely well chosen and appropriately performed.

I recommend, unless you're a bitter old crank. Well, bitterer and crankier than Terence Stamp, anyway.

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