FINDING YOUR FEET. UK, 2017, 111 minutes, Colour. Imelda Staunton, Timothy Spall, Joanna Lumley, Celia Imre, John Sessions, David Haymon, Josie Lawrence. Directed by Richard Loncraine.
A film for the young at heart – not necessarily for those who are young only in age. It opens up the world for them that they will associate with oldies, their grandparents (and, maybe, their parents).
While older age might be a late time to be finding your feet, the film reminds us that many men and women discover that they have been stuck in life, need to make a new beginning, need to find their feet again, if not for the first time.
Finding one’s feet means discovery, the ability to use one’s feet and walk in new directions, finding balance – and, as in this entertainment, some fancy footwork in dancing.
This is a British film, very British characters and situations, enjoyable for those who spent some time in Best Marigold Hotels, familiar characters and situations, and pleasing for those who expect the expected.
A wonderful cast. Imelda Staunton plays Sandra, relishing that her husband of 35 years, former police chief (John Sessions) has now been knighted. She loves the idea of being a Lady. But, at the celebratory party, she makes a dreadful discovery, feels humiliated, denounces her husband at the party and moves out. But where is she to go? She has not seen her older sister, Elizabeth (Bif), for 10 years. Bif is played as a free spirit, full of vitality, full of charm, by Celia Imre.
In the meantime, we have been introduced to Charlie, the ever-welcome Timothy Spall. He lives on a houseboat in a London canal alongside his good friend Ted, David Heymann. Charlie does all kinds of odd jobs, especially helping out Bif. He has to help out Sandra at one stage but she is extraordinarily rude to him. Not a great start for a romance…
There is quite a deal of pathos when we discover that Charlie’s wife suffers from severe Alzheimers, is in a home that Charlie could pay for by selling their family home and his living on the houseboat. The scenes between the two, where she not only does not recognise him but rejects him, is very sad, an alert about the impact of Alzheimer’s.
Dancing has been mentioned. Bif and Charlie go to a local club, mainly for the oldies, where they are encouraged to do all kinds of dancing. Sandra, who danced when she was little, is resistant but finally… of course she joins in. Another friend at the club is one of those sophisticated English woman who has had several husbands and perhaps talks like Joanna Lumley. Actually, here she is played by Joanna Lumley.
Lots of interactions that will to entertain the target audience but maybe a bit remote and/or tedious for other audiences. Although, it should be said, that sons and daughters of older parents may well find this film well worthwhile watching and thinking about the future of their parents.
The dance group does a charity performance in the middle of London, very exhilarating. They are captured on video, put on YouTube and receive an invitation to perform in Rome, all expenses covered. The characters are happy to go to Rome – and so, probably, will the audience.
Not all sweetness and light. Sandra is still bitter about her husband despite her urgings from her daughter and grandson. Charlie faces the terrible fact that his wife has gone from his life. Bif has some pains in her back and (we can probably guess the rest).
The target audience for this film is a solid older demographic. By and large, it is a light film, but a serious portrait of old age, and will probably be very much liked and appreciated by the demographic.
Fr Peter Malone MSC is an associate of the Australian Catholic Film Office.
Out February 22, 2018