film review: Song for Marion1 Comment
I hadn’t thought that a dramedy about a elderly widower who joins a choir to honour the memory of his recently deceased wife would really be my kind of thing… but I will freely admit, I was wrong.
Now I have to be honest, here are a couple of small things that rankle about Song for Marion… However, they are overcome by strong performances from the cast, which elevate the film from a run-of-the-mill British dramedy, and a plot that is actually less cheesy than you might expect.
Vanessa Redgrave is, as you’d expect, excellent as the titular Marion and Gemma Arterton also pulls off a decent turn in quite a thankless role as, essentially, a cheerleader. I’ve never been a huge fan of Arterton but perhaps I should think again. Christopher Eccleston as well stays away from the over-acting as Stamp’s estranged song.
That said, Song for Marion is Terence Stamp’s show. He has to be singled out for praise for this. It could easily have been another tired maudlin character, a standard one-size-fits-all depressing performance, but instead Stamp manages to bring us on-board with tender and emotional moments with all characters his life touches.
Now, I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself. This is obviously a film designed to appeal gently to the “grey pound”, exposed by last year’s The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and Mamma Mia! before that. You could argue that once we get past the initial tragic start of the film, it does get a little condescending with the “wacky” bunch who are part of the wife’s choir. One could argue though that it is no more offensive than how kids are often shown in the average children’s film. Song for Marion is basically a feel good movie so I can’t really judge it too harshly for not delving even more deeply into the circumstances – it already does more than you’d generally expect.
The big surprise here is that Song for Marion creates an emotional tug without feeling overly manipulative. Well, it is manipulative, but stays on the right side of sweet and becomes a film that is definitely more than what it says on the tin. I’m not afraid to say that a shed a few tears at the end. I know I was supposed to, but I didn’t care.