Foot tapping and Tear Jerking.
There are some films whose trailers really don’t properly represent their contents. The trailer for the new ‘grey-pound’ film “Finding Your Feet” promised a light hearted and witty foray into an elderly dance-club. And, yes, you get some laughs. But it’s very much a bitter sweet comedy, and the bitterness is ladled on by the bucketload leading to more tears than smiles through the majority of the running time.
Sandra (Imelda Staunton, “Pride“) – now Lady Sandra, after her husband’s latest knighthood – is in a predictable, sex-free but reasonably happy marriage to legal beagle Mike (John Sessions, “Denial“, “Florence Foster Jenkins“) when her world is shaken to its core on discovering that Mike has been having a five-year affair with her best friend Pamela (Josie Lawrence). Moving in with her Bohemian sister Bif (Celia Imrie, “Bridget Jones Baby“), she struggles to integrate into her decidedly lower class lifestyle and find common ground with Bif’s dance club friends Charlie (Timothy Spall, “Denial“, “Mr Turner”), Ted (David Hayman) and Jackie (Joanna Lumley, “The Wolf of Wall Street“).
Can Sandra turn her downward spiral around and find love and happiness again? Well, the posters scream “The Feel Good Film of the Year” so you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to know the answer to that! But it’s a bumpy journey for sure.
Getting all the acting honours is Timothy Spall, who is far too good to be buried away in this small British rom com. To watch him do “ordinary bloke doing ordinary things” is an absolute delight. He adds class and distinction to every scene he’s in, especially for those concerned with his truly tragic and upsetting back-story. Running a close second is Celia Imrie who has a wicked smile off to perfection and adds a lot of emotional depth to her performance: and she needs the range, since she too is on a pretty emotional journey through the second half of the film.
John Sessions and Josie Lawrence – old compatriots of course from the original version of TV’s “Whose Line Is It Anyway” – also deliver marvellous cameo performances, as does Phoebe Nicholls (“The Elephant Man”, “Downton Abbey”) as the tennis playing friend Janet.
Less convincing for me was Imelda Staunton, particularly in the first half of the film: for me she never quite pulls off the icy cold emotional wreck of Sandra, but is much better once the thaw has set in.
The film is written by Meg Leonard (in a debut script) and Nick Moorcroft (who did the “St Trinians” scripts). And there are some funny lines in there, although it has to be said that there are not enough of them. The majority of the best ones in fact are in the trailer, never bettered by Joanna Lumley’s zinger…. “My last marriage ended for religious reasons…. he thought he was God and I didn’t”! There’s not much more room for comic lines, since the rest of the script is stuffed with the dramatic outcomes from various flavours of old-age malady. Fortunately I was one of the younger members of the generally grey-haired audience, but for those further up the scale it must have been like staring into the void!
The film will win no awards for choreography, since the dance scenes are gloriously inept and out of sync. But this all rather adds to the charm of the piece.
Directed by Richard Loncraine, director of the equally forgettable Brit-flick “Wimbledon” and the rather more memorable “Brimstone and Treacle”, this is as Douglas Adams would have said “Mostly Harmless”: a film that most over-50’s will find a pleasant way to spend two hours. But go in expecting a drama with comic moments, rather than the hilarious comedy predicted by the trailer, and you will be better prepared.
(I should comment that the rating below is my view: my illustrious wife declared it a triumphant chick-flick and gave it FFFFf).
Fad Rating: FFF.