Cast:

Shirley MacLaine, Christopher Plummer, Marcia Gay Harden

Director:

Michael Radford

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Running time:

104 mins

Rating:

PG (offensive language)

Verdict: Missed opportunity.

A very loose remake of a 2008 Argentinean romance which was itself pretty soppy, this story of love in the autumn of life is not without its charms, though it takes a crisp and well-judged performance from Plummer to balance MacLaine's shrill extravagance.

When recently widowed Fred Barcroft (Plummer) is installed in an apartment by his daughter (Harden), who wants him living closer, he rebuffs attempts at friendship by neighbour Elsa Hayes (MacLaine) with such cantankerousness that you just know what's going to happen in the final reel.

In the event, it happens much earlier than that. One of the film's major problems is that Fred changes his mind about Elsa instantly and for no dramatically good reason, but one of its charms is that the story arc is not as predictable as it might have been.

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In short, Elsa is not telling the truth about a few things: her omissions, major and minor, are variously motivated, but what she is very sincere about is her desire to replay the Trevi Fountain scene from La Dolce Vita. (It risks giving away the ending to say that this would have been better implied than shown: MacLaine at 80 ain't Anita Ekberg at 29, especially lit from below).

For all the efforts of these two, however, the film has none of the goofball comedy zing that it tries for - and needs - to succeed. Subsidiary characters, including a greedy son-in-law, seem shoehorned in and particular indignity is visited on Wendell Pierce (the wonderful Bunk from The Wire) as the building's super.

Baby-boomer audiences dealing with their ageing parents would lap up a really smart comedy about this subject. This isn't it.


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