fri 15/11/2019

Song for Marion | reviews, news & interviews

Song for Marion

Song for Marion

Terence Stamp and Vanessa Redgrave work the tear ducts in the latest paean to old age

Leathery larynxes: Vanessa Redgrave and Terence Stamp in 'Song for Marion'

Are films for the senior demographic the new rock’n’roll? As the population ages and people keep their marbles for longer, entertainments for the grey pound, as it’s charmingly called, must be laid on. The job of films like The Last Exotic Marigold Hotel, Quartet and now Song for Marion is to tend towards the cheerful and the redemptive. Age is a bugger, they all accept, but it ain’t over till the fat lady sings – or in the case of Song for Marion, till Vanessa Redgrave and Terence Stamp have given their leathery larynxes a public work-out.

In this case old age really is flirting with age-inappropriate music. We come in on a choir of senior citizens in South London practising its version of Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy". The choir – who call themelves OAPZ - enters a competition with a performance of Motorhead's “Ace of Spades”. “You guys are gangsta,” says an admiring youth as this crocked posse struts its stuff. Later they put noses out of joint with a rendition of “Let’s Talk About Sex”.

Gemma Arterton in Song for MarionBut Song for Marion must also talk about death, and grief. Though she's a cheerful life force, Marion’s headscarf advises that she is not long for this film, and her grouchy husband Arthur (Stamp) is going to have to get along without her. Being short of people skills, he doesn’t know where to put himself. “You know how I feel about enjoying things,” he tells Marion (Redgrave). He has never got on with his son (Christopher Eccleston), whom in his bereavement he rejects, and is firmly resistant to the concept of taking Marion’s place in the choir when it’s put to him by Gemma Arterton’s ever so perky young choir mistress (pictured above).

There are vanishingly few surprises in a film which packs its factory-assembled plot and themes into the three words of the title. Indeed, Paul Andrew Williams’s script is almost touching in the care it takes not to wrong-foot its target audience with unexpected twists. You’d never guess that his previous film was the blood-drenched horror flick Cherry Tree Lane. Twice Arterton jumps out of her skin when she finds Stamp in his battered old raincoat and miserable mug waiting at her car, but anyone attending with a pacemaker need not worry.

The family back story doesn’t really pack any sort of character-driven oomph, but it barely matters. Song for Marion is a fun film about the power of communal music-making to console, restore and keep the grim reaper waiting. It’s a soothing message it never does anyone any harm to hear repeated. Stamp and Redgrave, wrinkled emissaries from the beautiful young Sixties, bring much wanted tartness to an overpoweringly sentimental recipe. You head towards the climax in the dread knowledge that tears will be expertly coaxed from watery ducts. Take something absorbent for mopping up.

 

GEMMA ARTERTON ON STAGE AND SCREEN

Gemma Arterton as Tamara DreweTamara Drewe (2010). Arterton plays Posy Simmonds's modern Hardy heroine (pictured right) in barbed rural romp shot by Stephen Frears

The Master Builder, Almeida Theatre (2010). Arterton stars opposite Stephen Dillane as passions blow hot and cold in uneven take on Ibsen

Clash of the Titans (2010). Arterton comes up Persil white as the Olympians of Tinseltown plan a classical killing in 3D

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (2010). Fantastical desert epic beguiles the eye while deep-freezing the brain

Gemma Arterton in Made in DagenhamThe Little Dog Laughed, Garrick Theatre (2010). Arterton plays straight woman to Tamsin Greig's mega-star comic turn in Broadway satire

Byzantium (2013). Arterton is va-va-voom vampy in Neil Jordan's return to bloodsucking

The Duchess of Malfi, Sam Wanamaker Playhouse (2014). In a bright opening for London's shadowy and atmospheric new theatre, Arterton is radiant as Marlowe's tragic heroine

Made in Dagenham, Adelphi Theatre (2014). Arterton reveals great pipes as she takes on the bosses in musical version of the 1968 struggle for equal pay (pictured above by Manuel Harlan)

The Voices (2015). Arterton is Ryan Reynolds' victim in Marjane Satrapi's surreal portrait of an American psycho

Gemma Arterton as Nell GwynnNell Gwynn, Apollo Theatre (2016). Arterton charms king and audience in West End outing for the Globe's jolly Restoration romp (pictured by Tristram Kenton)

The Girl With All the Gifts (2016). Bestselling dystopian book reborn as underpowered movie

Saint Joan, Donmar Warehouse (2016). Revival of Shaw classic is a tour de force for near-miraculous Arterton

Their Finest (2017). Resoundingly British and sheerly enjoyable story of filmmakers joining the fight against Hitler

Song for Marion is a fun film about the power of communal music-making to console, restore and keep the grim reaper waiting

rating

Editor Rating: 
3
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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