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  • PG
  • Comedy, Drama
  • 2012
  • 93 mins

Song For Marion

Song For Marion

Synopsis

Crotchety pensioner Arthur (Terence Stamp) is cajoled by his wife Marion (Vanessa Redgrave) into joining a local choir run by an enthusiastic volunteer (Gemma Arterton), in the hope that he might find enjoyment through the magic of warbling.

Review

Song For Marion represents a tonal shift for writer/director Paul Andrew Williams, whose previous films have been more rooted in crime and horror rather than the gentle kitchen-sink drama on offer here. While his new direction isn’t always 100% successful, Williams benefits enormously from the British movie royalty headlining his latest venture: Terence Stamp and Vanessa Redgrave bring subtlety and complexity to broadly drawn characters, and though they’re occasionally lumbered with the odd cringeworthy line, they sell the story with the effortless skill that you’d expect from such national treasures.

Redgrave’s terminally-ill but eternally optimistic Marion is the polar opposite of her over-protective husband Arthur: while she wants nothing more than to fill her remaining days belting out acapella pop tunes at the local community centre with her comedy relief friends, he wallows in his own grumpiness and is frustrated by his inability to find the right balance between letting Marion enjoy herself and stopping her from doing herself a mischief through over-excitement. Meanwhile, perky choir mistress Elizabeth (Gemma Arterton) attempts to drag Arthur out of his cantankerous shell, a task complicated by his fractious relationship with his equally stubborn son James (Christopher Eccleston).

Heartstrings are tugged with calculated precision throughout, and it would be a cynical pair of eyes that didn’t well up at least once or twice during the film. But as it trundles towards an inevitable yet improbable climax at the final of a singing competition, a few too many narrative fumbles threaten to undo the cast’s hard work. Like Freddie Mercury fronting Keane, Stamp is the centrepiece of an act that doesn’t quite deserve him.

Cast & Connections

  • Actor: Christopher Eccleston, Vanessa Redgrave, Terence Stamp, Anne Reid, Gemma Arterton
  • Director: Paul Andrew Williams
  • Screen Writer: Paul Andrew Williams
  • Producer: Ken Marshall
  • Photographer: Carlos Catalan
  • Composer: Laura Rossi

In a nutshell

There’s a genuinely touching family drama in here somewhere, but a lack of confidence sees it hidden behind comedy singing pensioners and a desire to provoke floods of tears at every opportunity.

by Neil Alcock

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