13 April 2015

A Song for Marion (starring Terence Stamp and Vanessa Redgrave)

Terence Stamp is delightfully believable as the curmudgeonly Arthur but his life is shadowed by the fact that his wife Marion (Vanessa Redgrave) is terminally ill. That’s not immediately obvious, although she’s wheelchair bound, and he has to take her everywhere.

Her social activities include a choir of elderly folk, meeting in a church hall, directed by the cheerful Elizabeth (Gemma Arterton) who was very realistic as a bouncy choir mistress, determined to make her mixed bunch of singers into a great choir. Her choice of music is sometimes quite amusing, as are some of the choir members and their reactions to her.

Arthur and Marion have a son, James, and I spent a long time during the film trying to remember who he was. I knew that face, but out of context could not place him. It was not until the end that I realised - duh! - he was Christopher Eccleston, the ninth Doctor. I thought he was far better cast in this film, as an adult son who’s very fond of his mother but mostly estranged from his father. He works as a mechanic and is divorced, with a likeable nine-year-old daughter Jennifer (Orla Hill) who is very fond of her grandparents.

The first part of the film felt quite morose as it was clear that Marion was not going to survive much longer. My husband almost turned it off after about half an hour, he was feeling so miserable. But we kept watching... and the story did get better, if a little predictable. The choir go on to a festival, and that leads to some quite amusing scenes and high drama, as well as some poignancy.

Unfortunately some of the singing, which is important to the storyline, isn’t that great, and this irritated my husband so much that he couldn’t enjoy it, despite agreeing that it was - in the end - a positive story, and a nicely made film with some great characters.

I liked the story and would have given it four stars; it was well-made, and the storyline a little different, even if it was fairly obvious from the start what would happen. I got quite caught up in the story. But my husband’s reaction was so negative that I don’t really think I can give it more than three - he’s quite eclectic in his tastes and will happily watch most films intended for women. But he really didn’t like this one.

The rating is PG in the UK, PG-13 in the US; I suppose this reflects the lack of horror, violence or nudity; on the other hand there are a LOT of references to sex. I wouldn’t suggest anyone under the age of about thirteen or fourteen watch this, as there are some quite heavy emotional scenes, and the storyline wouldn’t be of interest to children.

Apparently this film is known as 'Unfinished Song' in the US.

Review by copyright 2015 Sue's DVD Reviews

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